You are Worthy of Love and Belonging, with Dr. Kelly Flanagan | Episode 33

You are Worthy of Love and Belonging, with Dr. Kelly Flanagan | Episode 33

How can parents navigate teaching their children about the strength of their true selves instead of only bolstering their false self in the ego? What does it mean to find strength in your true self? Can strength exist in multiple forms?

In this podcast episode, Billy and Brandy Eldridge speaks with Dr. Kelly Flanagan about being worthy of love and belonging.

Meet Dr. Kelly Flanagan

Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a clinical psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life. Kelly has a Ph.D. from Penn State University and is the founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. In 2012, he began his now popular blog, where he writes regularly about those three essentials: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His writing has been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and in 2014 a letter he wrote to his daughter led to their appearance on the TODAY Show.

In 2017, Kelly published his first book—Loveable: Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life—and it debuted as the #1 New Release in Interpersonal Relations on Amazon. His next book—True Companions: A Book for Everyone About the Relationships That See Us Through—will be published in February 2021. Kelly is married to another clinical psychologist named Kelly—because they decided to make life more complicated than it already is—and they have three children: Aidan, 17; Quinn, 13; and Caitlin, 11. They live in a small town outside of Chicago.

Connect and learn more at www.drkellyflanagan.com and listen to his podcast.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • The ego castle
  • Dr. Kelly’s advice to parents about shame
  • The ego is both essential and non-essential

The ego castle

Dr. Kelly Flanagan’s popular metaphor for the ego protecting the true self is explained through the motif of a castle. It has:

  • Walls to hide who we really are. Even in the best circumstances, these walls tend to come up around the 3rd or 4th grade.

The ego walls are just the ways we begin to hide our uniqueness and the ways we hide things that might set us apart so that we can blend in and fly under the radar so that no one else will nail us. (Dr. Kelly Flanagan)

  • Ego canons: these are added around middle school and comprise the angry, more aggressive things we do. It comes from the idea that the best defense is a good offense, an intense action of the ego to protect the true self.
  • Ego throne, a place in the world where we feel good enough in the world by having established ourselves to feel good enough. Our jobs, popularity, wealth status can all be ego thrones.

The problem is at some point we realize we’ve done it, we’ve arrived and now what? I’m lonelier than ever inside this ego castle, I feel more disconnected than ever … but every castle has a drawbridge, and every person has a choice at that moment to lower that drawbridge and have their true self walk out the false self and show up vulnerably and authentically in the world. (Dr. Kelly Flanagan)

Dr. Kelly’s advice to parents about shame

You probably will have shamed your children at some point, but it is nearly impossible not to do this to your kids, so there is no need to shame yourselves additionally for having passed on shame.

You can offset this shame in your children by affirming the identity they have in a way that will help them to buffer other shame they may encounter later on in life.

I think this is something we can be doing as parents on a consistent basis, is just thinking: what is the delightful thing about my kids? What’s the word I want to use to affirm them? And make sure that it is not connected to performance. I don’t think delight is about performance, it’s about people and who you are. (Dr. Kelly Flanagan)

This begins to offset how you have to express boundaries and punishment because they learn that they are still delightful even when they have made a mistake. You can also remove shame from them by seeing how they exhibit strength in their delightful way.

Some parents consider bolstering their children’s ego castles as a way to make them strong, but there is a strength to the true self that is more enduring and resilient than any strength within the ego. Your job as the parent is to foster their strength in their true self so that they can return to it someday.

If someone is telling you something inside you is unacceptable, it is more likely that they cannot accept that inside themselves.

The ego is both essential and non-essential

The ego is necessary at times, because there may be moments in a child’s life where it is not safe for their true self to be out in the open as some people may, intentionally or otherwise, be harmful to that true self.

The ego is a necessary developmental phase as it is something we build to keep us safe while we navigate the world from a young age. The problem comes in when we stop thinking about the ego as a phase but instead as a final goal. It is a phase that we should aim to move through, and then return to our true selves.

Learn the three essentials of a truly satisfying life, and receive a free weekly guide for the journey!

Books mentioned in this episode

Are you ready to find the freedom to be yourself as a beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free beta revolution course is for you. Sign up for free.

Useful links:

Meet Billy Eldridge

billy-eldridge

Meet Billy, the resident beta male. For Billy, this is a place to hang out with other beta males and the people who love them. We’re redefining what beta males look like in the world. I have learned to embrace my best beta self, and I can help you to do the same. As a therapist, I understand the need to belong. You belong here. Join the REVOLUTION.

Meet Brandy Eldridge

brandy-eldridge

Hello, Beta friends. I am an alpha personality who is embracing the beta way of life. I feel alive when connected with people, whether that is listening to their stories or learning about their passions. Forget small talk, let’s go deep together. Come to the table and let’s have some life-changing conversations.

Thanks for listening!

Did you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of the Beta Male Revolution Podcast on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[BILLY]:
Beta Male Revolution is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a family of podcasts seeking to change the world. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Hey, Brandy.

[BRANDY]:
Hey, boo.

[BILLY]:
How’re you doing today?

[BRANDY]:
I’m good. We had a fantastic guest.

[BILLY]:
We did. Dr. Kelly Flanagan, the author of Loveable.

[BRANDY]:
I could’ve talked to him for hours.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. Amazon bestseller.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah his book, Loveable, it’s really about getting to know your true self. He talks about it in the podcast. I don’t want to give too much away.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, cuz he says so much. We’ll let him.

[BRANDY]:
But he is giving away the first four chapters to our listeners.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, PDF. You can find it on our website, betamalerevolution.com. You can also go to DrKellyFlanagan.com and learn all about him. He also has a companion podcast to his book, The Loveable Podcast. I just like that we have a guy on the podcast that wrote a book called Loveable and it has a big heart on the front.

[BRANDY]:
It’s good. And I know you too were like, [unclear] each other.

[BILLY]:
Props to the sensitive man.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, it was good. It was a really good podcast. It was solid. He’s just a wealth of information. I know for me just listening to him, I was thinking of our son the whole time. And it made me think of him and how I want to raise him and the things that I want to say to him and it’s just great. He also has a book coming out that we have already pre ordered. I’m waiting on it.

[BILLY]:
Ian Cron wrote the intro, from Typology podcast, the Enneagram podcast.

[BRANDY]:
Love Ian.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, we like Ian too.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, yeah. So it’s all about some good work. And it speaks to what we do with Beta Male Revolution and just who we are. And I love that it aligned with us so, so well, it was just a good, good podcast. So enjoy the listen. Rate, review us.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, Christmas is coming up. So if you want to give us a little Christmas present, go over to Apple podcast and rate and review. And also, in my day job, Olive Tree Counseling Txk, I’m a therapist. So if you need to talk to one, reach out to me, if you can’t, because you’re not in my local area, I have a great network of people you can meet with. Me and my friend Randy Thompson own Olive Tree Counseling. So that’s what I do for fun, plus the podcast. Hey, let’s do this.

[BILLY]:
Welcome, Beta Male Revolution. Today we have Dr. Kelly Flanagan on the podcast. We’re so excited. The way I found out about Kelly was through a friend, Jon Vroman, we met Jon Vroman through a friend named Joe Sanok. So the wonderful world of podcasts is just connected with like minded people who have hearts about the things that we’re passionate about. We can’t wait to get into the conversation with him today.

[BRANDY]:
Which is… What are we passionate about?

[BILLY]:
We’re passionate about freedom, freedom to allow people to be their most authentic selves. And for me as a guy for the longest time being a sensitive guy, I was trying to fit into that more macho role. And that didn’t fit me very well. And it didn’t work out so well.

[BRANDY]:
Well, guess what, Billy, you’re loveable. And so is Dr. Kelly Flanagan. Welcome.

[BILLY]:
Welcome.

[DR. KELLY]:
It’s great to be here, guys. Thanks for having me.

[BILLY]:
Kelly, could you tell us a little, I was listening to your podcast, The Loveable…

[BRANDY]:
Wait, is it Dr. Flanagan or Kelly?

[DR. KELLY]:
You know what, people will try every combination. Kelly is fine with me. Some people go with Dr. Kelly, whatever you feel comfortable with is fine with me.

[BILLY]:
Hey, for the sake of the podcast, we’ll go with Dr. Kelly cuz that sounds awesome.

[BRANDY]:
We could just go with Flanagan. We’re like high school buddies.

[DR. KELLY]:
That’s right. Yeah, well, actually if you were a high school buddy it would be Flan. They called me Flan.

[BILLY]:
Oh. Well, Flan. Let me tell you, I was driving down the road, listening to Loveable, your podcast and you talked a little bit about your story and how you got to the idea of loveable in the book that you wrote. And like I said, our friend, Jon Vroman with Front Row Dads, said, hey, you gotta listen to this guy’s stuff after I talked with him. And I turned on the podcast. I’m like, what’s this gonna be? I’m gonna listen to Flan. Let’s see what he’s got to talk about. And I’m driving back from my job in Oklahoma to Texas. And within the first five minutes, tears are streaming down my face. And I feel a little less alone in the world. And those are the connections I look for. And so could you just tell us a little bit about yourself and the way you did that day on your podcast?

[DR. KELLY]:
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, the question itself challenges my sense of shame a little bit, because my sense of shame tells me that I’m not very interesting. And so someone that says, hey, just talk about yourself for a while, and it stirs up all that old insecurity, you know, but I’m grateful for another chance to kind of rest in my worthiness and share my story and trust that it’s enough. Yeah, so I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago. I resonate with what you say, Billy, that you were, you know, a sensitive young man. One of the one of my favorite stories to depict what a strange young boy I was, you know, as far as stereotypes, it was the last day of my fourth grade year of school and the sun was setting. And I snuck out of my house and I snuck up, back up, walked up to the school to the playground. And I remember sitting on one of the benches on the playground and just spending that like it’s the sunset, that time, remembering all of my favorite moments from the playground that year with my friends. And I am a terrible, terrible singer but I sort of came up with this refrain in my head that I sang while I was remembering it, which is, those were the moments, those were the days, you know, [unclear] incredibly sappy, sensitive, you know, sentimental, it’s like I was destined to write a book called Loveable, right? Like, with a big heart on the cover, like this was unavoidable.

Except I did try to avoid it for many, many years. I didn’t think that it was okay to be that sensitive. In fact, I even had plenty of experiences where when as a boy, and then a young man, I showed that sensitivity, that it got punished. And that it didn’t serve me well, that people didn’t respect my authenticity and my vulnerability, in large part, probably because they’re just not used to, they don’t have that hat on with a guy, you know, they don’t have that hat on of like, oh, the guy, they’re humans to with feelings under the surface and, and vulnerabilities and sensitivities. So I think all of that added up to as I share in my podcast, and in my book, sort of a sense of shame about my true self, you know, and the way that I see it, and the way that I’ve come to, to trust is the way that it works is that we come into the world with a true self that’s worthy of love and belonging exactly the way it is, which means even if you’re a guy, and you’re more sensitive and feeling than maybe the average guy, or at least the average guy shows, then that’s fine, you’re good. But over time, we begin to doubt that and so we received this message called shame, which says that who we are, and the way we were made isn’t good enough. And so we go about building a false self, you know, sort of like think about as a kid, when you’ve gotten the message that who you are, isn’t good enough to be loved and to belong, what’s actually sort of smart then to try to start to build the self that is, and and most of our childhood, and most of our early adult lives is spent building the second self which is, is supposed to project an image that earns you the love and belonging that you don’t think you’re good enough to receive.

But for me, and I think for a lot of us, at some point, that becomes exhausting, it becomes lonely, you’re sort of hidden within this self that you’ve, this persona you’ve created and, and it comes time to finally start to try to figure out how you can bravely be you again, and, and so a lot of that journey is the journey that I talk about in Loveable. And as you said, I think it’s a journey a lot of us are on and it’s why the book has resonated with so many people.

[BILLY]:
Well, okay, and when you talk about that, the false self and the true self, and I heard a metaphor of the castle. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s a metaphor that I spent some time within Loveable and, you know, you mentioned Jon Vroman connected us, he calls me Dr. Kelly, by the way. That metaphor, when I shared it at the first Front Row Dads retreat that he invited me to, it really resonated with him and a lot of the guys there. And so as a, you know, as a psychologist, now, my job is to figure out, like, how can I help people get their hands around, or their minds around sort of the abstract inner realities like a false self, right, or what we call the ego, that they’re different, different names for the same thing? And, and so over the years, I’ve experimented with a bunch of different metaphors for that. And the one that by far seems to be most helpful to and resonate with people is this idea of an ego castle.

So the way I think of it is, we have an ego, each of us develops this false self, or this ego to protect our true self. And that ego is built like a castle with three components. At first, we add ego walls and these are the things that we do to sort of hide who we really are. You know, and this even in the best of situations as kid it starts to happen around third or fourth grade, I think, and so these are the things that you see kids, all of a sudden, like the kid who didn’t care what they wore to school, now they got to wear a name brands, right? Or they didn’t care about the fact that they like reading the Civil War Almanac at the lunch table, but all of a sudden there was that okay, I gotta, I gotta go sit at the jocks table and play basketball instead. And so, our ego walls are just the ways that we begin to hide our uniqueness and the ways that we hide things that might set us apart so that we can blend in and sort of fly under the radar so that no one else will nail us, you know. So you have that you have that first piece where you are building these ego walls.

[DR. KELLY]:
And then the second piece of the ego that usually gets added around, like Middle School usually, is what I call ego cannons. And, and ego cannons are the more aggressive, more angry, sometimes things that we do. The idea there is like, I’m still feeling ashamed, I’m still feeling insecure. So I gotta up the ante here, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna hurt people before they can hurt me, best defense is a good offense, you know. So things like, can include everything from gossip, to bullying, to all the inner judgments we make of people to, you know, can get physically violent, and that sort of thing.

And then finally, usually, hopefully, sometime in early adulthood, we finish out our ego by building an ego throne. And that’s a place in the world where we feel like we don’t have to worry that we’re not good enough anymore, because we’ve proven it, right. Like we’ve established a reputation or authority or power, or affluence or, or some symbol, that we’re good enough. And it can happen as we, you know, our parenting can become an ego thrown, our jobs can become an ego thrown, you know, our reputation or popularity can become an ego throne. And this is sort of how we progress into early adulthood. And the problem is, at some point, we all sort of, we’ve done it, you know, we’ve arrived, and now what, like, okay, I’m lonelier than ever inside of this ego castle, I feel more disconnected than ever.

And this is what Jon Vroman loved, you know, every castle has a drawbridge. And every, every person has a choice at that moment to lower that drawbridge, and have their true self walk out of that false self and show up vulnerably and authentically in the world and see who rejoices, right? Like, publish a book called Loveable and see what people really can handle you being a sensitive man. You know, like, let’s see how that goes. And some of it’s been good, and some of it hasn’t. But that’s the, to me, that’s the moment we’re wanting to cultivate in adulthood is that moment when we start to leave that false self behind and show up as our true self again, even if as a man that’s, that’s being a very sensitive and feeling person.

[BRANDY]:
I have so many questions for you, because of what you said. So I’m trying to go down the list and ask them, but going back to what you were talking about in the beginning, and just your story, and you talked about, you mentioned being punished. And I wanted to know more about that. Was that yourself? Was it your friends? How was that? Who? Why were you being punished, who was doing the punishing? And was it just because you were just being you at that point before you had built that castle?

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I do my best to honor my people, even the ones who have hurt me, by not getting too specific. But I’ll tell you one that stands out in particular is that like, everyone can probably relate to this a little bit, like, so you think about in middle school, these ego cannons are getting added to our egos, right, the more aggressive things that we can do to really make people feel bad, so that we don’t feel bad ourselves. And so amongst boys in middle school, there is an incredibly intense, aggressive sort of jockeying for hierarchy, right? Who are the strong ones, and who are the weak ones? And when you begin to sense that someone is more sensitive, they get hurt more by words, you know, that they’re not as likely to stand up for themselves physically, those people can tend to become sort of, they get established on the lower end of the strength hierarchy. And, and, and when, when you’re being told that as a boy, strength is about that kind of bravado, then you start to take in that message that I’m not good enough. You don’t know that there are all sorts of other kinds of strength within you, emotional resilience and those kinds of things. Yeah, no one’s teaching you that. So I mean, that that stands out is one one example of that, you know, oftentimes the playground was not a very fun place for me to be.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, when I asked that question, it wasn’t like, I apologize, I wasn’t gonna have you call out like, family members.

[DR. KELLY]:
Oh yeah, I know, I know.

[BRANDY]:
No, but I’m glad you said that because that’s what I was wondering. Was it the culture you were around? Was it the area? Was it regional? Was it family? Was it the playground?

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, you know, it’s so funny that my story has come full circle, because, you know, I think so now, so I grew up in a smaller community, and I think a lot of the jockeying was more physical out in this rural community. It was, it was about who was tougher physically and athletically and so on. Now, I eventually ended up living in a suburban community for decades as an adult, and there when you look at the playground, a lot of the jockeying is around who’s who’s smartest and who’s gonna go to what college and there’s a lot of competition and shame around that. But ironically, five years ago, I moved my family back out here to the town that I grew up in. Because I think that’s the freedom that we get when we know that we’re good enough, we can sort of take that with us wherever we go and we know that we have all sorts of strength that doesn’t need to be defined for us by the culture that we’re in.

So yeah, so I think it does depend upon culture. I think it does depend upon families, like, you know, any guy who’s listening could say, how did we define strength and value in our family? And how did that just not fit with my personality and my sort of emotional makeup? And what did I start to conclude about my value as a result of that? So really, any context can begin to define value and strength and, and therefore define us out of value. And we have to reclaim it for ourselves.

[BRANDY]:
I love hearing you say all this, because just in what we’re doing with Beta Male Revolution is somewhat defying the traditional roles and what we’ve been taught as a society and culture. And we’re raising these kids and trying to teach them that maybe you’re not physically strong and talking about that jockeying, but you can be emotionally strong and resilient. And so I love how I haven’t even put it in that, in those words for my kids that, hey, you may not be this, but let’s find out what you are emotionally and how important that is growing up. And I think about the parents that are listening to this podcast right now. And so what are some practical ways, like when I can do a podcast or when I listen to a podcast that I walk away with one or two things that I can do, and I can practice. So what do you say to those parents that are trying to push back against those roles?

[DR. KELLY]:
Hmm, that’s really, yeah. Thank you for that question. Well, the first thing I always like to say to parents, when we start to talk about shame, is because immediately really, every good parent goes like, oh, no, like, have I sent my kids some of the wrong messages? Have I shamed them a little bit? And so I like to reassure every parent who’s listening that absolutely, you’ve shamed your kids. There’s no question about it. If you’re human, you’ve passed along a little bit of that to them. But kids don’t need perfect parents, they just need parents who know they’re not perfect. And who can be an unwilling recipient when their kids eventually come to them and say, Mom and Dad, it didn’t all feel good, you know? And so there’s no problem with that. In fact, if you were perfect, can you imagine the pressure that puts on your kids? If you show up perfectly all the time, that they say, oh, no, I’ve got to be perfect, but they’re inside of themselves. So they know they’re not perfect and now they feel shame about that.

So there’s no need to shame ourselves additionally, for having passed on some shame to our children, and so it’s okay to know that that’s, that’s normal. And at any opportunity, we’ll use the opportunity to offset that a little bit. And I think that’s your question, right? Is how can parents affirm the identity of who their children are, in a way that buffers a lot of the shame that they are going to pick up in the world? And, you know, I mean, I think it’s, I’ll give you an example if it’s okay for me to tell a quick story.

[BILLY]:
Absolutely.

[DR. KELLY]:
So, I have a friend and we’ve been coaching soccer, youth soccer together for quite a while. And at the end of every soccer season, we before the last, you know, week of practice, and that final parent players scrimmage you always do with US Soccer, you know, we, we take our roster, and we sit down together, and we identify for each kid on the roster, what is one word that we would use to describe how we have delighted in that kid over the course of the season, something delightful about who they are, and the way that they showed up during the season. And we don’t connect it in any way to performance, right? It’s not that you were the you were our fastest player, or you scored the most goals or anything like that. It’s about who they are and how they showed up to this season. And then what we do is we, we, we create a certificate, we call it an Aword, instead of an award, an aword. And we create a certificate that awards them with that word. And then we add three synonyms to the certificate, because they’re kids and the word doesn’t always make complete sense. And then we add sort of a benediction that says, This is why we see this in you, and this is how we encourage you to go out and live that quality of yours in the world.

And then after our final parent player scrimmage, we order pizza and you know, break out the Capri Suns and everything, we sit down and, and it’s so fascinating because like you coach like first, second, third, fourth, fifth graders and it’s so hard to get them to actually pay attention to you as a coach, you know, they just want to like talk to each other and everything, but man, you give one kid their aword. And all of a sudden, like, the pizza gets put down, the Capri Suns get, like, they are all ears because you’re about to delight in them, right? And, and so this is like, I think this is something that we can be doing as parents on a consistent basis, is just thinking, what is the delightful thing about my kids? What’s the word that I want to use to affirm them? And make sure that it’s not connected to performance. I don’t think delight is about performance. It’s about people and who you are. And, and being really conscious of that. And, and you’ll discover that that begins to offset all the ways that you have to express frustration and boundaries and rules and punishments, is that yeah, all of that’s true, I got to punish you, you’ve got consequences, you really screwed up. And this is still true about you, you are still delightful in this way. And that can begin to buffer them against some of that shame. And if you really wanted to get specific about strength, you could say, what is one delightful way in which you exhibit strength, that may not be a traditional way of exhibiting strength, right?

And so one of the stories that comes to mind recently was one of our young kids on the soccer team, you know, his father had died suddenly of a heart attack in the previous few months. And the word that we gave, the delightful word that we gave to him was ‘focused’, because he was so focused all of the time, he would just like listen to you. And so this idea that he could be focused, and use that focus to contribute to a community, even in the midst of terrible hardship and grief and loss happening in his life. Like, to me, that’s what it means to sort of delight in who a kid is, and to show them how that is a source of strength.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. I love it. It amazes me how much pushback I get from that message, though, when I share it with people. Especially in family therapy. I stole… I use that very phrase, your primary purpose is to delight in your children. And I stole that from Rob Bell, I believe. So many people think, well, your primary purpose is to make them strong, make them tough. And the way I see the old way, it’s like, oh, if you coddle em too much, they’ll be weak. If you throw too many, and I think about the Johnny Cash song, A Boy Named Sue, where the guy’s dad named him Sue, and he found his dad one day and gets in a fight with him because his dad left, why did you name me Sue? He said, well, I knew life was gonna be tough. And if I gave you the name, Sue, you were gonna learn how to fight early. Well, how about the dad just stick around, show up and give the kid [unclear]?

[DR. KELLY]:
As a guy named Kelly, I can relate a little bit. Yeah.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. Well, and why is empathy considered a weakness?

[DR. KELLY]:
That’s right. Well, and I mean to go back to the soccer example, and I think this can help distinguish it for some of these folks. You know, people are really surprised to hear that I don’t think every kid should receive a trophy on the soccer field. And the way I distinguish the two is that the trophies are meant to award performance. And so when you communicate with everybody getting a trophy that everyone performed equally, you are probably sending the wrong message, because not everybody did. But everybody is equally worthy. Everyone has qualities in them that are equally delightful. So I’m not going to give a trophy to everybody on the team, I’m going to give them in aword. And that is not coddling, that is telling the truth about who they are. And how are we ever going to live from our strength if someone hasn’t seen it in us and named it for us, right?

[BILLY]:
Yeah.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, it’s it’s letting, like Billy and I say, you’ve got to tell your family, your kids who they are before somebody else does.

[DR. KELLY]:
That’s right.

[BRANDY]:
And I think that you’re laying that foundation.

[DR. KELLY]:
Well, and I think I mean, I think what you’re getting at, Billy, too, is that a lot of us associate our ego castle with strength, right? And so what they’re really saying to you, even though they don’t realize it is, well wait, I need to help them build their ego, so that they can be strong. If I just help them embrace their true self, like they’re gonna get hammered. And what we’re saying here is that there is a strength to the true self that is more enduring, stronger, more beautiful than any strength you’ll ever find in your ego. And so it’s about trying to help parents understand that and that, yes, your kids are going to develop an ego, don’t worry, you don’t need to help them with it. They will do it, believe me, like they will eventually be 16 and have an ego, there’s not going to be any trouble with that. But your job is actually to help them stay connected to the underlying strength of their true self in the midst of that ego formation so that it’s easier for them to return to it someday.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, you have a phrase about ego that I love. And I’d love for you to talk about it a little bit, ego adds to the collective misery of the planet. [Unclear].

[DR. KELLY]:
Did I say that? That sounds like something I might say.

[BILLY]:
Well, you do talk about reducing the collective misery of the planet overall. But ego adding to the collective misery and needing to do ego work and what is the ego? And when you see it raise its ugly head, and is there a healthy part of the ego? What..?

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, those are great questions and important questions for anyone listening. I’m glad you asked it, because I was starting to allude to it there. The ego is absolutely essential. Because the reality is, there are times when it is, you know, as kids grow up when it is not safe for their true self to be seen, when people will be harmful and intentionally or accidentally harmful to that true self. So the ego is a necessary sort of developmental phase. And that’s the way I’d sort of describe it. It’s a phase. It’s a, it’s a thing we build to help keep us safe as we begin to move out into the world and launch ourselves. But the problem is when it becomes not a phase, but we begin to think of it as the final goal, right? Okay. I’ve developed my ego, I’m sitting on my ego throne, I got my canons, when I need them. Now I’m good to go. And when it’s seen as the final destination, that’s when we see it really starting to add to sort of the collective misery of the world because ego evokes ego, right? So anger evokes anger, arrogance evokes arrogance, you know, deception evokes deception. So if we can see it as a necessary phase that we we went through, and that our kids will eventually go through but it’s a phase that we want to move through by eventually returning to more of a place of true self and living from that, then I believe we will see the collective misery of the world eased a little bit, which would be lovely.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, well, and I believe when we do our own personal ego work and reduce our personal misery that is going on inside of us, the way I see it is I built this ego around this person I thought I was going to be, I did construction during my first half of life, it wasn’t a good fit for my personality. But I kept trying to be the square peg in the round hole. And it probably would have all fallen apart naturally but I found these support braces in the form of alcohol and opiates. They came around that ego structure and allowed me to propel it a few more years before it all fell apart. And when I was miserable, very unhealthy things just came out of me, the worst parts of myself. But when all that began to fall apart, and I lost everything, and I was at rock bottom, and I realized, oh, I can lose everything and still be okay. Why not give a shot at just being me? And my pain lessened, and therefore the pain I transferred to other people lessened. And I wanted to make the world a better place. And I wasn’t jockeying for position, or trying to be the loudest voice in the room. I wanted to listen and learn and be a part of, and if someone was hurting, I wasn’t hurting so much I couldn’t see their pain.

[DR. KELLY]:
That’s beautiful. That courage and even in your story I can hear why so many of us and it gives me compassion for why so many of us hesitate to do that work, right? The having to sort of face these, these facades you’ve created that aren’t really you and the pain from which those facades originally arose. Like, there’s some hard work and some tough feeling that goes on in order to get back and reconnect with that place of true self. So it does take it does take great courage, but the reward as you’re articulating is absolutely worth it, isn’t it?

[BILLY]:
Yeah, thank you for putting that much better than I did. I’m gonna have to go back and listen to that.

[BRANDY]:
Oh, I was thinking the same thing. I’m like taking notes over here. And I’m like, well, I’m gonna have to listen to this podcast again, because it’s got some good practical advice.

[BILLY]:
Well, it’s like you’re giving out these little permission slips to be okay with your stuff. Because when you mentioned punishment, I thought back to my childhood immediately. And like I said, not calling out people. My parents did the best they could with what they had, they were great people. But I had, I developed panic attacks early on. And I can’t imagine my father, a son who grew up under a father who was in the military, who was a state trooper in the police. Fear and weakness were not seen as a strength so when I started exhibiting these traits of panic and anxiety and constant fear around the world, there’s probably a lot of fear in him, how do we fix this? And how do I get this out of him, and he’s not going to be able to make it in the world. We can’t embrace this stuff, you know, and going to a counselor or talking to professionals about these kind of things just weren’t what you did. And I think we’re trying now, to push back a little bit against that, and, and there was something clinical there that needed to be worked out. But there’s also a part of my personality in there, too, that I just run high on empathy, and compassion. And I kind of feel the world around me. And sometimes that makes me a little anxious. I can identify that now. Then, I didn’t have any words for it. But if somebody would have given me some words, other than you’re weak, and you’re small, and this is bad, and you’ve got to get rid of it, the world might have been a little bit easier at the time.

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, I mean, you’re making a great point. And, you know, comes from your sort of emotional intelligence, to know that, like, if someone tells you that something in you is unacceptable, they’re probably not able to accept it in themselves, right?

[BRANDY]:
Mic drop. That’s so good.

[BILLY]:
She just knocked our podcast mic over.

[BRANDY]:
Will you say that again?

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, if someone tells you that something is unacceptable in you, it’s probably that they’re having a hard time accepting that very thing in themselves. So if they tell you that vulnerability is weakness, it probably means that a long time ago, they had to, they were shamed for their own vulnerability, or whatever. But they’re just having a hard time embracing it in themselves. Actually, you know, it’s funny, I haven’t thought about this in ages. But I’m remembering I did a Loveable retreat weekend in Waco in 2018. And I was in a car full of guys on the way to lunch during that, just guys I just met. And we were talking about masculinity. And, and I remember, I can’t remember if it was a combination of what we all said or what, but we ended up defining, saying that we were all taught that masculinity is about not being afraid of anything around you. And we are redefining it as not being afraid of anything within us.

[BRANDY]:
Wow.

[DR. KELLY]:
Masculinity is not being afraid of anything within you. So yes, fear. Ironically, I’m not afraid of the fear within me, right? I can have panic attacks and go, oh, I don’t need to hide this. I don’t need to think this makes me bad. I can move toward this. I can deal with this. I can get help for this. The irony is that even that, I don’t need to be afraid of my shame. I don’t need to be afraid of my self doubt. I don’t need to be afraid of my, I don’t need to be afraid of my potential. I don’t need to be afraid of what I’m capable of. And, and just being able to embrace everything that’s inside of you. [Unclear] I just said, about you, Billy, an incredible amount of courage and strength.

[BILLY]:
Well, I’ve got that part down. [Unclear] Kelly on being afraid of my potential, because I still have fear of am I still worthy, and when you mentioned, thank you for saying at the beginning, you know, is my story even interesting, because I’m sitting here thinking, I’m talking to Dr. Kelly Flanagan, he wrote the Loveable book, why do I even have a podcast? Should I have a [unclear] mic on? What are Brandy and I thinking? This is, you know, I don’t deserve this. And then stepping back into worthiness. And there’s all these voices that I love. I love Glennon Doyle Melton, I love Dr. Brene Brown. But there’s not a whole lot of guys right now saying this stuff, empathy and vulnerability and stepping into the space. How do men do it? And you’re helping us. Thank you so much, Dr. Kelly.

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, you’re welcome. It’s funny you mentioned Brene Brown just now because I was just thinking like, I think she’s the one who says that shame shows up as two voices. The first one is you’re not good enough. And the second one is that as soon as you think you might actually be worthy, the second way shame shows up is who do you think you are? Right? And to me, that’s that next step, as you as you start to kind of see what’s possible for you and embrace your potential and what you’re capable of, shame will show up again now and say, oh, hold on, that’s arrogant. You’re not allowed to think that, you’re not allowed, you know, or, frankly, the fragile egos in the room won’t be okay if you’re successful, so you’re gonna catch a lot of flack for that. And, and so it’s just it’s sort of, it’s always sort of finding another way to challenge us again. I mentioned I even felt a little bit today at the beginning of this interview, you know, like, oh, tell me about yourself, oh, my gosh, she’s really interested in me. But it’s always an opportunity to, to listen for that better voice within that’s, that’s speaking about our worthiness.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. I learned in 12 step meetings early on about ego and pride and how damaging that can be but I always thought of that as coming in the room and thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread and you’re awesome and everybody should be around you. But they taught me about pride in reverse, self pity and shaming, I’m not good enough and move into the middle, or I’m just a human among humans, I’ve got my job to do in the world. And that should be centered around what you say, reducing the collective misery. And not these grand ways, I thought I had to have a huge platform, be like Billy Graham, and like packout stadiums, but just who’s one person I can talk to today and do one small thing to make the world a little of a better place?

[DR. KELLY]:
That’s right. It just levels the playing field. And that’s I mean, if there’s a difference between how worthiness feels like, from ego versus true self, from ego, it’s always about hierarchy, right? It’s always about where do I stand in relation to others? Am I better or worse than others, but worthiness in a place of true self, it’s not a vertical plane. It’s a horizontal plane. It’s we’re all we’re all ordinary human beings. We’re just here to do our thing. And, and I’m enjoying doing my thing. How can I help you enjoy doing your thing? You know, and we can all get to be ourselves?

[BILLY]:
Dr. Kelly, you’ve done that today. You’ve reduced some of the uncomfortableness, the suffering in our room, gave us permission to be who we are. And as this goes out to the people who listen to our podcast, I think it’ll do it in the world. So thank you so much for sharing your message. And in wrapping up, how do people find you, get a hold of you, you have a little free gift for our audience? drkellyflanigan.com, right?

[DR. KELLY]:
Yeah, absolutely. And Billy and Brandy let me just say that like this is, I will always be blessed by conversations that make me feel less alone in the world and this is one of those today. So thank you for being you and showing up the way that you did. I’m really grateful for you. And yeah, I have a website. It’s drkellyflanagan.com and it actually just relaunched literally about 10 minutes ago. And so it’s easier than ever, when you go there. It’s right in the top header, a place where you can get your what I call your free guide for the journey. And it’s basically it maps on really closely to that Loveable podcast of mine. And it’s a 52 week guide that takes you through these three core essentials in life, that I call them the worthiness, belonging and purpose. And each week has one reading for the week and one practice that you can practice throughout the week. And they’re built, they’re sort of it’s sequenced intentionally to build on each other as the year goes. So I’d encourage anybody to go there and get their guide.

[BRANDY]:
I want to say before we wrap things up, I love when our podcast aligns, our guests align with what we’re doing in the world. And, and just trying to make it a better place and this paradigm shift that’s happening with the way we think of masculinity and femininity and trying to navigate those waters. And so your message is so important and so relevant to what we’re doing. And, and I want to speak just to the women too, who listen to this podcast, who are the alphas in the relationship, when they start to hear men talk about masculinity and the softer side of it, and you even said, you know, what the average guy shows, but they have it all in them and allowing the space for that. And I think that is a paradigm shift as well for me at least, to be able to be okay with that. You know, when Billy and I got married, he told me he couldn’t fix anything. And I was like, okay, well, I’ll just call my dad, it’s fine. But really the culture and the socialization and normalization of what masculinity is. And so I just want to say thank you for putting this out there. For all the parents that are raising kids that want to raise these emotionally intelligent children and just want to make the world a better place. So with saying all of that, I have a very deep question I want to ask you, when you’re alone in the car, and you’re rocking out to music, what is your jam?

[DR. KELLY]:
Oh, that’s such a great question. Yeah, I do, I thank you for saying that. Because you’ve reversed all of this for the people out there raising daughters, you know, if your daughter doesn’t seem to be sort of as, as tender and nurturing, as feeling as you’d expect a daughter to be, she just tends to kick ass, well, affirm that too. You know, my wife is one of those and I adore her for it and we’re good Yin Yang in a lot of ways. So what am I listening to these days? So I’m just gonna, it varies, oh gosh, that’s a great question. Okay. Here’s, I’ll give you the the the beta male answer to that. The beta male answer is that this is again, it’s so cheesy and weird, but okay. Every year on my birthday for like the last four or five years, I rewatch a movie called Arrival with Amy Adams about the arrival of 12 alien ships. Have you seen it?

[BILLY]:
No, but we’re gonna watch it now.

[DR. KELLY]:
I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful piece of storytelling. And in the last scene of the movie, there’s a piece of classical music that plays over it. And it’s called On the Nature of Daylight, and it’s by The Max Richter Band. And, honestly, like, last night, on my way home from work, I had a 70 minute drive home, I listened to it on repeat, because I was in a very sort of soft, tender, reflective place and it’s a great soundtrack for that. This morning, while I was writing, I listened to the new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band album, which is also by the way, I mean, talking about a beta male in a lot of ways, he’s seen as this like hyper masculine guy, but go to that album and listen to the places he’s going emotionally with that album, and you’ll have a totally different perspective.

[BILLY]:
I love it, Dr. Kelly, we’re gonna have to have you back on because you have a book coming out, True Companions. [Unclear] February 2021.

[BRANDY]:
February 9th.

[DR. KELLY]:
You got it. February 9th, True Companions, a book for everyone about the relationships that see us through. I’d love to come back on and talk about it.

[BRANDY]:
Well, I was gonna say on the next one, when you come out with true companions you both need to come on. I just don’t know how to address you.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, we’ve got to share that. And then you can tell us a little bit about the fact that you’re Dr. Kelly Flanagan and you’re also married to Dr. Kelly Flanagan. Correct?

[DR. KELLY]:
So Kelly Mom, Kelly Dad is one of our typical ways of doing it. Kelly he, Kelly she, people find their own ways. But yeah. Oh my goodness. Wouldn’t that be fun to have all the four of us? That’d be [unclear]. Yeah.

[BRANDY]:
That’d be totally fun.

[BILLY]:
We’ll put that on the schedule. Thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you for all the stuff that you shared with us. Thank you for making the world an easier place to live in. You’ve done that for me. I have no doubt that will happen to our audience. Dr. Kelly, thanks for being here.

[DR. KELLY]:
Thank you, Billy and Brandy. Be well.

[BILLY]:
Are you ready to find freedom to be yourself as a beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find your strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your own skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free Beta Male Revolution course is for you. Sign up for free at betamalerevolution.com/course.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guest are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

Beta Male Revolution is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

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