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Coming up on the Dr. John Deloney Show.


I just think it being a constant state of distractability and frustration and avoidance. My friends and husband have all gone on to become respectable adults who earn money, who keep on studying and learning.


Emma, you grew three human beings, and you kept them alive. Hey, what's up? This is John of the Dr. John Deloney Show. Some say the greatest mental health and marriage and relationships, dating, parenting, whatever you got going on your life, YouTube show, podcast. So glad that you've joined us. We're here in Nashville, Tennessee. If you want to come visit us, we've got free coffee and cookies and studio out here where you can come watch the show, hang out afterwards. If you want to be on this show, and this show is about real people going through Real challenges in their life. If you want to be on this show and give me a buzz, and we'll sit down and figure out what's the next right step, give me a call at 1-844-693-3291. It's 1-844-693-3291. Go to JohnDaloney. Com/adult. Com. Ask. What? No, you did everything fine. I realized yesterday, because we were running a little late, as we are today, that I did not say...


Do you happen to know who the NFC East champion was?


Do you know who... The Cowboys? Yeah. I just wanted make sure that everybody was clear on that. Now, I realized by the time this airs, it could all have gone fantastically wrong. Hey, but all we care about- Or we could be getting ready for the Super Bowl. All we care about is that the Eagles have found their way down the toilet drain. Dunster fire. Correct. To my friend Jalen. Yes, I'm talking to you, Jalen. You've been texting me and blowing me up, asking me what size eagles's jersey Kelly and I would want to wear. That's all I got to say. Not a chance in hell. I may have bet that you and I would do I have faith, which clearly you don't. We don't play them. We're not right now, and we're not slated to play them next week either. We're not going to play them because we're not going to even make it. They're going to be out next week. Chances are, even if they won this weekend, we're still not going to play them. Chances are. Yeah, right. Chances are. I was about to say, but look at the world around us. Chances are lots of things come true.


Any given Sunday, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, exactly. I just wanted to make sure we were all clear on who the NFC is champion was. We're all clear. Go Astros. All right, so if you want to be on this show, if you want on the show. 1-844-693-3291. Leave a message. It can be long, it can be detailed. Sometimes people write out what their question is, and they just read that question over the voicemail or go to JohnDaloney. Com/ask. You can write in a word document, cut and paste it, drop it in there, and we'll get you on the show. Let's go out to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Oh, by the way, before we go to Minneapolis, please take a second and like or subscribe to show. It makes such a difference. If you're on the tubes, we've We have some pretty audacious subscription goals this year. I want to blow the roof off. We did it with social media this year. We did it with the size of the show. We want to do it with our subscriptions to YouTube. So go to YouTube, hit subscribe, and let's knock the top off this thing. All right, now let's go out to Minneapolis and talk to TJ.


What's up, TJ?


Hi, Dr. John. Thanks for taking my call. Of course, man.


How are you?


Doing better than I deserve, I guess.


Excellent. I So what's up, man?


Just calling to see how I can change my behavior long term to help save my marriage.


What's going on?


There's been some recent arguments I've had with my wife and come to a point where she stated that she's waiting the options of divorce and basically pinnacleing from, I don't respect her and I don't value her decisions and her opinions and ideas and criticize her too much.


Is she right?


Definitely. I would say so.


I guess the logical question is, tell me about your reasons for treating her that way. Because based on what you just said, if she was my daughter, she was my sister, I would say, Yeah, dude, I'll help you out. I'll call the lawyer for you.


Yeah. In the moments, I guess, I don't think about how she feels about stuff. I guess.


Why do you wait till the moment?


I don't know. I don't really think about her opinion, I guess. I don't know if it's a selfish thing or- Yeah, 1,000 %.


How long have you been married?


It'll be 10 years on the first of February. Okay.


So this has been going a long time? Has it always been this way? And she just said, I just can't do it anymore.


Actually, we talked about that, and she did say that when we first met, it wasn't like this at all. We met in high school. We were at a different point in our life than we are now. But then when we first met, a cool, calm collective, never got worked up about anything, and now he doesn't see that anymore.


So what's happened in your life, man? You've become Somebody you don't want to be. Somebody that you didn't used to be, but now you are.


I don't really know. I guess I've had a lot of life changes since that point in my life.


Well, we all had life changes, man. But we don't all treat our wife the way you treat yours, as though there's somebody not worthy of us. I guess- Is she not doing something? Is she not stepping up to the-Here's the deal. I don't care about in the moment. In the moment is an excuse. If I go to the grocery store and I buy tons of junk food and I fill my house up with it and every cabinet is full of junk food, and When I wait for a moment when I get mad or when something happens or when a bill is higher than I thought it was going to be or a paycheck is lower than I thought it was going to be or my middle schooler mouth's off, in that moment, I've set myself up to fail because I'm going to open a cabinet and there's going to be junk food, I'm going to eat it. Or if I struggle with alcohol, there's going to be alcohol, I'm going to grab it, I'm going to drink it. In the moment, in the moment, in the moment, that's not where the focus has to begin.


Because in the moment, it's It reveals the state of things in the moment.




Back me out of this thing, man. I You've created a world for yourself where you, in the moment, you are unable to be who you want to be or you choose to not be who you want to be. Let me say it like that. Tell me about this world. Does she not love you anymore? Does she not care about you anymore? Do you not like who you see in the mirror anymore?


She still loves me. She said that she loves me. It's definitely part of… I don't like how I see in the mirror by the way I act around her and other people, too, in some regards as well. I don't know how to fix myself in that way, I guess, and the fact of I just see an issue or a problem, and I just want to address it. I don't really take in regard to help people think about that, and I just want to solve the problem, I guess.


But you don't want to solve the problem of being a better dad or a better husband. Because if it was just that easy to just solve it, that's just who I am. I just like to get in there and solve it. Why don't you just get in there and solve this Because I think it's deeper than that. What has happened in the last 10 years of your life that makes you not happy with the life you've created for TJ?


Because I would- My expectations for how I perceive my immediate family should be and how we should make this much, we should do this much, or you should I go to church, we should. I'm just trying to set these expectations for what I have. My kid's room shouldn't be clean. I just have this bar set of where I see our lives, and then when It doesn't line up with my vision of it. I don't know.


What does that imaginary fantasy vision get you? Because I have a similar one. I want my kids' rooms to be clean, my family to go to church. I'm a family. I want to make this much money. I have that, too. I have incredibly high standards.


I don't know. When I don't see that happening or my vision of that happening, I don't want to say I take it It's like a personal attack, but I guess I get on the defensive about why hasn't this been done? Or, Why would you think that, or I don't like that idea.


I'll just cut to the chase here, man. Almost every person I've talked to over the last 20 years in this situation who puts external metrics on those closest to them, external expectations. I want my kid's room to be clean, my son's room to be clean, because I know he has my brain, and I know that clutter and chaos will make his day more difficult and challenging. I also know that long term, for to be a man who gets things done in an orderly fashion and to become some husband to somebody someday. There has to be some order and some ritualistic cleaning and tidying up after himself. That's psychology, right? I know the data there. But I don't carry it as though it's an affront to my self-esteem. I don't look at his dirty room as though I have failed as as a father, and he has failed me. Almost every time I talk to somebody who lives the way you live is you don't like yourself so much You are so bored and exhausted with the life you've created for yourself that the only way you can get out of that is to put all of those negative feelings that you have towards yourself on other people, and you create these standards.


The standards in and of themselves aren't the problem. It's that those standards are signals to you of your worth, your value. If somebody causes your value to be less than, you lose it.


Sounds accurate.


I'll ask you, why don't you like TJ? Do you not make enough money? Have you gained a bunch of weight? Do you not like having kids? Do you wish you hadn't been married? Do you live in the wrong town? What is it about the world you've created that makes you so freaking miserable?


I don't know. I think it's just the unrealistic expectations I've set in myself and my family because I really don't have- Forget your family for a second.


Forget your family for a second. What are you you're failing in?


To be honest, it's probably being a good husband and a good father, but that's obviously not in my mind when these things are coming up.


Well, if you have created a lie in your head that says, I'm a good father and a good husband because my wife does X, Y, and Z, and I'm a good father and a good husband because my kids, the room is always perfect, their clothes are always perfect, their grades are perfect. If you have outsourced that sense of I'm a good husband and a good dad to the performance of other people, when they fail in their performance, then you suddenly are a failure. Do you realize how you've made your wife and your kids your report card? That's not their job.


You're right. All right.


Is that fair?


Yeah. Since I wrote into the show, it's been a little bit. I've been told from my wife that things have been getting better and I've been criticizing her less and not dismissing her opinions when it comes to her life decisions as much.


Yeah, you're still headed straight for divorce court because this is not going to be done by just reducing to a trickle. You have to change your life. How serious are you about keeping this marriage?


A hundred %.


How serious are you about keeping your kids?


A thousand %.


Do you understand you're about to lose them both?


I do.


Okay. How radical are you willing to get?


As radical as I need to be.


All right. Sometime this week, probably not tonight, because you need a minute, I want you to take your wife's hands. And by the way, don't read the comments on this because you're going to get a bunch of moronic idiots who have never held a marriage together and don't know what being a good father looks like. Okay? You promise me on that one?


I promise you. All right.


By the time this comes out, you'll have already done a 30-day challenge. I'm giving you 30 days. Okay?




Actually, you know what? I take that back. Tonight, I want you to put the kids to bed and tell your wife you have something important to talk to her about. I want you to get on both of your knees in front of your wife and hold both of her hands and say, I am so sorry. I'm begging for your forgiveness. Will you forgive me for the man I've become and the way I've treated you and our children? I'm sorry. No explanations? No. But you know because... Just beg for forgiveness because she's walking out door. Okay?




That's number one. Number two, I want you to look her in the eye and say, this little act right here means nothing if I don't back it up with action. I want you both to get up and sit at a table, and I want you to get a pen and a paper and ask her this question, how can I love you? Tell her, I'm not going to respond, I'm not going to speak, I'm simply going to write this down. Here's what we're doing. We are overhitting the pendulum the other way. There's going to have to be some balance here, but right now, you have to change the way you interact with the most important people in your life. This can't pass your algorithms. This can't pass your rational thinking. That doesn't even make sense. But you go by the gas station every day. Why should I fill up your car? I'm going to fill your car up with gas every Sunday night, and I'm going to pray for you in our marriage on the way to the gas station, on the way back. It's going to be an act of of monastic service. After the kids are in bed, after you're in bed, I'm going to get in the car and I'm going to drive.


I'm going to pray for you in our marriage. I'm going to fill your car up with gas every Sunday night. If she says, When I get home from work, I just want to talk to you. I don't want to be told how dumb I am, and I don't want you looking at which things aren't done in the house. That leads me to number three. Every time you walk in the house and start to criticize something, you go do I can't believe there's dishes left, and I'm going to go do those dishes. This isn't forever. This is for 30 days. Because I want you to begin to switch your body's understanding of what being a husband is. A husband is not your wife performing for you so that you feel good about yourself. A husband is about service. I want you to begin looking at challenges in your problems, messes, little things, big things, not as things to point out for other people to fix for you, but for ways you can serve. You see the flip there? I do. You're still going to notice the carpet that needs to be vacuumed. You're still going to notice the kids' clothes in the corner.


But instead of noticing them as wife failures, thus husband failure, you're going to notice them as, Oh, sweet. I get to serve my family.


I think that perspective would definitely help.


Is that fair?


That's fair.


Okay. For 30 days, every time you criticize her, you have to send $25 to the charity of her choice. Now, that doesn't mean you don't get an opinion in your own home. What that means is you have to be a man of strength and bravery, and you have to say the word I. Not, you didn't. You have to say, I need to come up with a solution about all these dirty clothes everywhere. How can I help? Versus, you always leave all the... You see what I'm saying? See the difference?




Hey, hon, when I get home, I have this picture in my head that we're going to have dinners. It's going to be ready to rock and roll, and I know you're running around with the kids. I know you've got your own job. I know whatever's going on in your life. What can I do to help this? See how one is an invitation, a curious invitation, and the other is an accusation and a criticism. Every time you use the word you, you're going to put $25 in a jar, or you're going to write a check, and you're going to send it to wherever she wants you to send it. Fair?


That's fair.


Okay. On a daily basis, this is number four. Before she leaves the house, I want you to hold her. Ask her, Can I give you a hug? A long one. And I want you to hold her. And there's not going to be an ROI on this hug that's immediate. There's not going to be like, I've got 15 seconds. Not I'm going to hold my wife. Then I want you to ask her, How can I love you today? Here's what we're doing, dude. We are practicing. We're practicing. Whenever you see your kid's room messed up and it starts to set off, I'm failing as a dad and those kids need to... Relax, man. Relax. My office in my house is an absolute nightmare. It's a disaster right now. It shouldn't be, but it I had an incredible financial year and I wrote two best-selling books over the last two years, and I've got a good show. My life's okay. Your kids are going to be fine. If I have to make an error one way or the other, I'd rather my kids want to come home and be with me than have had a perfectly made bed their whole childhood.


Is making your bed important? Absolutely. Picking up your clothes, important lesson to teach kids, no question about it. Am I going to burn my relationship with my kids to the ground over that? No way.


I realized that after I'm in those situations, and I just feel guilt after that. Doing their homework with them, and I get frustrated. Why don't you understand this? Then after the fact that they're just sad.


Here's the number five. I'm giving it to you. You have to begin to circle back and say, I'm sorry your daddy messed that up. Do you forgive me? They'll say, It's okay, Daddy. You'll say, No, it's not, because dad shouldn't talk to their kids like that. I'm sorry. I know you're trying your best. I remember how hard school was for me, too. You see how easy that is, man?




I can feel my shoulders relaxing just saying that. It takes so much pressure off that you have to be this perfect thing, and then you have that guilt and shame. The only way you can feel the guilt and shame, the The only way you can make it go away is to then try to feel powerful again. The only way you can feel powerful is by beating up on your wife and your kids again. It just creates this loop that never ends until your wife walks out the door. You have to open your hands and let it go. You're going to find a strange thing. The more you honor your wife, the more you say, I'm sorry to your kids when you blow up. By the way, I'd have a family meeting where you say, Daddy has become very mean, and I don't like it anymore, and dad's going to make some big changes around here. But sometimes I'm going to have to just walk away for a minute because that's Daddy working on and practicing not being mean. If I walk away, I want you to know it's because I love you. I want you to tell your kids that.


I want you to tell your wife that. You got to stop the cycle, man. Is that fair?


That's fair. Absolutely.


Okay. I've given you the roadmap, dude. I'm also going to send you a copy of my book Building a Non-Anxious Life. It's got a roadmap in there, too. My guess is you have built for yourself such a tightly wound life that it is hard to maneuver inside of that thing. It's just leaking out on everybody you love. I will say this. I'm proud of you for saying, I've got to do something different because you don't like criticizing all the time. You miss your wife. You like sitting there working on homework with your kids, even when it's frustrating and hard. But you don't like that look when you say, Are you kidding me? How do you not know this? And they just dropped their head. You don't want this either. No dad does. Be with your family, not over them. Be with your family. And when you're going to find a service and leadership, comes underneath people and lifts them up. It doesn't lord over them. I've given you the road, Matt, my brother. Hang on the line. I'll hook you up with this book, too. Best of luck to you, man. I hope you change everything.


I think you can. We'll be right back. This episode is sponsored by Better Health. Hey, it's Jeloni. Some people think relationships are going to be easy if they're going to be right. That's almost never true. Great relationships get that way because both people put in the work to make them great. Therapy can be a place to work through the challenges you face in all of your relationships, whether with friends, people at work, your romantic partner, or even how you get along with yourself. If you're thinking about starting therapy, I want you to try better help. Because therapy isn't just for people who've experienced trauma, it's great for building skills so you can be the best version of yourself. You can show up in those relationships and do your part to make the relationship great. Betterhelp is completely online, so it's flexible enough to fit your schedule. Just fill out a short questionnaire to get matched with a licensed therapist, and you can switch therapist at any time for no extra cost. Find the path forward to make all of your relationships incredible. Visit betterhelp. Com/delonie today to get 10% off your first month. That's betterhelp, H-E-L-P.


Com/delonie. All right, let's go out to Toronto, Canada, and talk to Emma. Hey, Emma.




What's up?


Strange. It's like- I know.


All the people I used to date in high school.


It's like my virtual and real life just mixed.


Do what?


Like my virtual and real life just mixed.


It did. All through high school and college, when I would date, people would be like, Oh, this is strange. Hey, I'm used to that, so it's okay. What's up?


I'm good, but frustrated, which is why I was calling.


Let's do it.


I wrote down my question because I'm not sure I would be able to say it otherwise.


Perfect. Read away.


My question is basically, how do I make myself do the things that I want and need to do? To explain, I'm 33 years old, and up to my mid-20s, I was always top of my class, had a full scholarship for my PhD. I was working on it from morning to evening. I'd wake up early, go to the library where I would stay until closing time, then go to a café and work until midnight, and I loved it. The library was my home and my community and my safe space. Then met the wonderful man who's now my husband. In the past seven years, we got married, moved around a lot, and had three sweet little kids. But my kids are all in daycare now. We just arrived in Canada five months ago, so I'm still working on a work visa. I have time to complete my PhD and other stuff when the kids are not at home, and yet I just don't work. I'm three years ready without a scholarship. My PhD isn't complete. It's a monstrous 600-page research that I'm I'm not trying to edit down. I studied for a teaching certificate last year in order to get a job, but I have one seminar work left to do in order to get that certificate, and yet I'm procrastinating on that, too.


When my kids are in school, I just sit down to work, but I end up scrolling through Facebook, or watching YouTube or cooking. Then I get frustrated in myself and avoid that feeling through scrolling on my phone, even in front of my kids and my husband. I just seem to be in a constant state of distractability and frustration and avoidance. I lost all self-respect. I'm lonely. My friends and husband have all gone on to become respectable adults who earn money, who keep on studying and learning, and I'm just stuck in a rut. I just feel I've done my fault and I'm lazy and useless. How do I make myself do what I want and need to do? Why am I not letting myself do what I want to do? How do I get my self-discipline back.


You may be one of the bravest people I've talked to in a long, long time. Thank you. I'll just say this. It's one of my great honors to talk to you.


Thank you.


Man. As you described your last 10 years, it's fascinating to me how you and I so quickly land on very different pictures of what strength and accomplishment and awesomeness, to sound high school kid, look like. I've got two PhDs, right? So I can talk from some gut knowledge here. Okay? Yeah. In the last seven years, I've written a few books, and it sucks. You got to get up early, and I got two little kids, too. You got to deal with the kids, and I'm married, and I got a job, and then you write in the night time, you write on the weekends, all Emma, you grew three human beings, and you kept them alive.


Yeah, but that's supposed to be the basic.


No. That's supposed to stay there. Where in bloody hell did you get the story that some arbitrary academic certificate was of more global importance, more accomplishment and achievement?


Because it's not about the accomplishment. I love the learning. I love the research. I love the study. I love it when I do it.


Do you love it or did you love it?


I do. No, I still do. Whenever I managed to make myself I sat down and work, I just remember every time why I love doing it. For some reason, the next day, I gained a contrapease that trick. It's just beautiful. I'm working on something so interesting and fascinating in you, and I just That's why it's got to be 600 pages. I explored every single aspect of it.


I know. But you're a different person seven years later, Emma.


I can't stop now.


That's not true.


It is.


It's absolutely not true. Here's how I know that for a fact. I'm one course short from something. I've never talked about this publicly. One course. I've had an incomplete for going on five years now. Every semester, I email the professor and say, Can I get this thing knocked out? And she responds, Absolutely. Waiting on you. And I don't do it. It occurred to me recently. My life has moved on. Now, I'm stubborn as a mule. I'm going to go grind it out so I can get this thing done. Here's what's crazy. I'll never talk about it. No one in my world is going to know about it. My wife might. But my life has changed. I have different priorities and different values now. If I have a weekend, I got really sick this past weekend, and I read an entire book, and then a half of another one. Oh, my gosh, I loved it. It was heavenly. I had my highlighter out. I read, I laid in bed, I would fall asleep. I'd wake up and read some more. I took tons of notes. That's not my life anymore. I can grieve that's not my life anymore.


Give me something- I don't want to grieve the I love this one. I don't want to lose this one.


But I feel like you're at war with your body.


I am, but I want it so badly.


Okay, so let's take another track here. What if your body's right? What if it's right?


But it's not just the PhD. It's practically everything I need to do.


What is that?


When we first arrived and I had to take care of getting my paperwork for my permanent residency, that's my husband to help me take care of that. Paperwork, money, everything. Okay, but have you given yourself some grace? All the things I need to do in adult life.


Where's home? Not just my PhD.


Where's home? Not Canada. Okay.


Far away?




Will you give your body a minute? It doesn't even know the air it's breathing or the ground it's walking on.


I can't really. I'm 33 years old. We have not lived for longer than four years in one place in my life. I've come always moving. I've actually only lived twice for four years in one place. It's not going to change. We're here only for three years. Okay.


Here's what I'm telling you as directly as I can because I love you. You're going to keep Hammond away, and I did it. I am 10 years ahead of you or 15 years ahead of you. I did it. My body said, Stop. Then I had a kid. Then we lost a lot of pregnancies, and we had another kid, and my body said, Dude, stop for a second. I I didn't. I almost lost everything, Emma.


How did you make yourself to do it?


If I had to do it over again, I would have done it very, very differently.




I would have relaxed.


I would have taken- In what way? How?


I would have honored the season I'm in. You're 33 years old. I mean this with all respect, but you're just getting started. I didn't start my second PhD till I was 35. My mom didn't start hers until she was 42. You got three little kids in day You're in a whole new country. You're unable to work. The government won't even let you work.


Yeah, but I don't want to be spending my days just scrolling through Facebook or listening to you I'm not going to.


One million %. I got you on that one. You're right on that. The only way I found success there is to be draconian, to turn screens off, give passwords to somebody that I care about, get rid of them, delete everything off of them, which is tough if you move countries because that's your lifeline, right?


Yeah. I mean.


I want you to look at your brain as recognizing it is lonely and as scared as it has ever been. This magic little box is giving you a lifeline to your former life.




Like heroine, it needs just a little drip. Please This isn't some big cosmic moral failure on your part. This is your body trying to adjust. Okay?


Yeah, although with the news these days.


I know.


That doesn't do anyone any good either.


But can you solve that?


Yeah, I guess I got to be draconian, as you said.


No. Is there anything Emma can do in Canada with three kids to solve some political challenges back home?


No, but I can be helpful here. There are some things I can do to help from here.


More importantly than that, there's some things you can do. You can get to know neighbors.


You can make- Canada, the suburbs, everything's quiet and empty. Is no one on the street?


There's not. But if you go put flyers on people's doors and say, I'm having coffee at my house every morning at 6:00, somebody will show up.


It doesn't look like it's snowing outside. I know.


That's the story. That's the loop. That's what anxiety and depression do to us, hon. I'm not diagnosing you. I'm not saying that's what happens, but your brain starts to tell stories that this is the way it's always going to be, it's the way it's always been. Then you go through the world looking for what you want to find and what you're finding right now because it justifies the story that you're not enough and you're not going to make it and you're going to quit just like everybody else. You are grieving your old life, the life that was 24/7 dedicated to your academics, learning, coming up with new ideas, having late night coffee shop conversations. That's juxtaposed I pose with, Hey, Mom, can I get a snack? Can I get a snack? Can I get a snack? Let's go, kids. Hey, hurry, hurry. You have your shirt, you have your socks, right?




In no way are you broken. Do you need infinite less screen time? Absolutely. But I want you to go back and listen to this call. As painful as it is to say this out loud. Every time I put something on the table, you instantly have a response for What that means is your world has gotten increasingly smaller and smaller and smaller, and your grip on things has become so tight that even light and joy and peace can't get in.


I don't know how to let go.


I know. If I give you some really tiny, trite things, you promise to try them?




It's not going to sound like what you... It's not going to be what you want me to tell you.




You promise?


Yeah, I promise.


Okay. You've been married seven years, so it was '26, '27 when you left wherever you were? Started having babies?


Well, we moved around four times since we got married, but we moved country only five months ago.


Okay. I want you to write yourself a letter to Emma on her wedding night. I want you to let that naive, wonderful, brilliant young woman off the hook because she didn't know what the next seven years were going to look like. Four moves, multiple countries, three children. I want you to write her a letter that says, Hey, I love you. I know that you're walking on the aisle with this man that you love, who's a great guy, whatever, whatever, and that you think things are just going to go as they were, everything's about to change, and that's okay. I want that to be a lengthy letter that you spend some time on. I want you to promise me that you're going to start a daily journaling practice, period. It starts with, Dear Emma, good morning. I love you. I know it sounds silly. Number three, I want you to begin to look in the mirror in the morning, and I want you to make a fist when nobody's in the bathroom, and I know as a mom of three small kids, it's almost never, right? But I want you to tell your husband, I get private bathroom minutes.


I want you to stand in front of the mirror and put a fist in your chest and say, I love this girl. I want you to repeat that 5 or 10 times.




Okay? Mm-hmm. The fourth thing is your mission, your singular mission, is to find a friend, an in-person human that you can do life with. Whether that's going to coffee shops, whether that's enrolling in a local class. It's separate from your PhD just to go meet people. The worst part about the dissertation process is there's no more deadlines. It just is.


Yeah, that is the worst.


I think there could be some real to signing up for a class or a course that has a deadline to it, that has people in it, that you show up and you meet and you say hello. If that fire starts to slowly spark up again, that's amazing. That's awesome. If you find, I just don't want to. Okay? Yeah. But you've got to find people. The last thing I'm going to tell you to do is you have to make daily movement a part of your life, which is very hard in freezing tundra of Canada in the winter.


Yeah. Used to run. I can't get myself out of the house now.


I know. Do you have the seasonal lights in your home right now?


What is that?


You have Amazon there, I'm certain? Yeah. Okay. I want you to get on Amazon, and I want you to get two or three light boxes. Okay. For seasonal affective disorder, S-A-D-S. When it gets very loud and very cold... I mean, I'm sorry, not very loud. When it gets very dark and very cold, your whole body starts to shut down. Turning on very bright lights in the morning has an extraordinary outside psychological impact, a neurological impact. It changes your brain chemistry.




Every morning, I start my day by going down in my basement and flipping on of the craziest bright lights you've ever seen in your life. Wow. That's only if I can't get outside and see natural sunlight, okay?


I can't go down to my basement. It's too dark here.


That's fine. I'm cold. If you get those bright lights and you get them You're going to be drinking in your house and your husband and your kids are going to be like, What are you doing? You're going to smile and say, I'm bringing the sun to the bedroom. I mean, into our bedroom, into our living room, right?




Okay. Here's what we're looking for. I want you to keep this in your soul. Write this in your journal. Little Wins.




Little Wins. If that means I'm going to edit one page on my dissertation, I want you to give yourself a few weeks before you get back into that. I'm going to edit one page, and then I'm putting this down. Oh, but I got on such a roll. I don't care. One page.




Then the next day, do another page. Is that Yeah. Most of all, I want you to re-fall in love with the woman you used to be in love with, which was you. You loved the life you built for yourself. You loved the adventure you were on. You loved your research. You loved Emma. I think you love your husband, right? Yeah. You love your kids? You love your kids, right? Yeah.


They're amazing. Okay.


What you don't love is the life you have. I want you to find little glimpses of feeling alive again. You're going to finish the dissertation. I got no question about it. I want to tell you, though, on the other side of it, you're going to get the graduation, you're going to get the new name, you're going to be Dr. Emma. It's going to be awesome. Then your kid's going to walk in and go, Can I have a snack? I don't have any underwear. You're going to realize life just keeps going on. I promise you this because I've done it twice. That's with every great achievement, a number one book, the best financial year of your life, all those things, you end up the person in the mirror the next morning, too. Hang on the line, then I'm going to send you a copy of Building a Non-Anciest Life. It's going to be my gift to you. I'll send you to read it. We'll send it up there to Canada for you. You call anytime, where I'm walking with you. I, one I 1,000% believe in you. We'll be right back. All right, we're back. Let's go out to Phoenix, Arizona, and talk to Megan.


Hey, Megan, what's happening?


Good morning, sir. How are you? Good morning to you.


I'm doing great. What's up?


Good. Well, I was wondering if you can give me some tips or tricks to successfully grieve a life that I thought I would have and accept.


Why don't you have it? Why don't I have it? Let me say this. Why don't I have it? What's the life you thought you would have right now?


I expected that I would get married and around... I'll be honest, I had it laid out. I just... You take for granted, I guess, certain things. I just assumed that by 25, 26, I would get married, have the wedding day, and I would have two or three kids between 27 and 32. That's what I That's what I saw. New income, minimal debt, family vacations, and life just went a whole other direction. What happened?


Where'd it go?


Well, I did not meet anybody that felt right for a long time. And then I decided at 32, 33, I was like, Okay, well, I'll just do it myself. And so I lost 50 pounds to up my chances, and I put money away, and I free- Hold on, up your chances for what? Artificial insemination.


Okay. So take care of yourself. I thought you were like, I'm getting rid of these dating apps. But you're talking about like, No, I'm going to just become a mom on my own. Okay. All right.


No, I decided, Well, I can do this myself. I looked into artificial insemination and I was like, Okay, I'm definitely going to need money, and I will have a better chance of success if I lose some weight. I did three rounds, and two of them didn't take. One did, but I lost it, which was disappointing.


Hold on. It wasn't disappointing. That's devastating, right?


Yeah, that was rough.


Yeah. Let's don't just be like, Oh, well. That's brutal. So lots of money, lots of time, lots of investment. And then, okay.


Then I I met my man. I met him, and it was that cheesy, weird feeling where it was the fireworks, but it was also that sense of calm. It was, There you are. It was his home. It was peace. I thought, There's my picture. Now, here he is. A Over the course of several months, I ended up finding that he actually is, believe it or not, in prison. He was wrongfully convicted of child molestation. I know how that sounds. Believe me. You think it? I thought it, too. I mean, we have been fighting it, and here we are six years later, and he's lost hope a few times, and I've lost hope a few times. It's just like you look up one day and I'm like, I'm 38 now, and it's just like, wow, this is definitely a different picture than I would have ever guess for myself. Let's have it. Let's have it. I know it's coming.


No, there's nothing coming. I'm going to put aside the single part because that's hard. That's a mess, especially these days. Especially if you think back to 10 years ago when all of the world's problems were going to be solved through dating apps and all that world, which is right when you were doing all this. That world's a mess, so I'm not going to hop on that. But I guess the thing I want you to really internalize is this is the life you've repeatedly chosen on a regular basis.


I agree.


It's hard that I don't- It's not a life that happened to you. Does that make sense?


Yeah. I don't regret my decisions to be with him. I think it's more of I feel like I always made the right choices in life. I always went to school. I had the perfect credit score. I had my master's by 30. I took care of everybody. I juggled work in school and took care of grandparents and parents. I made all the right decisions. And so then there's this child in me that wants to throw a tantrum and be like, This isn't fair. I made all the right choices. I did That's all the right things.


Here's what you did. You got the shiniest pair of tap shoes and the coolest hat and the nicest cane. You've been singing and dancing for everybody for 38 years. You did all the right things, but all those things were things that other people told you were going to make you valuable and worthy. Here's how I know that you don't care a lot about your graduate degree. People I know who are... You hear me talk a lot about, we put all the marketing materials, I got two PhDs. I don't ever talk about my master's degree. You know why? Because it was a high five that the school gave me in route to something deeply important to me, which was learning this material. But there was a season when I just wanted to get a master's because people told me that would make me more valuable in the marketplace.


Yeah, I happened to work for a university, and I got it for free. It was like my mom said, Well, it's a free master's.


Every friend I have, I would tell them that. I'll tell everybody on the planet, if you work at a university and they get free graduate degrees, of course take one. The challenge is you thought it was going to feel differently and that it was going to be the key that unlocked the portal to not more money or not more whatever. It was going to solve you. I'm going to take care of grandma. I'm going to take care of mom and dad. I'm going to go do the next right thing. I'm going to make sure I don't borrow a lot of money. I'm going to have... All these things were supposed to be what made you feel still inside, and they didn't. My fear is you're waking up at 38 realizing you've been... And even the last six years, I'm not going to fight you on whether I think your boyfriend's guilty or not. But for In six years, you've been fighting somebody else's fight. My fear is you woke up at 38 realizing you made a bunch of choices every day for your whole life. You never bothered to ask Megan, What do you want to do?


I think what I Well, I knew what I wanted. I wanted a wedding day where my mom could see me in a dress and my friends and family around. I wanted the relationship with my child like my mom had with her mom and I have with mine.


I get that.




That's gut-wrenching. I'm sorry.


I'll tell you, now that I've learned since being in this mess, it's like you're so eye-opening. You just don't know anything about the justice system or the prison system, and you get into it and you're just like, What in the world?


Yeah, it's wild.


It's hard not to just to get caught up in it because I mean, It's just- Here's my- We thought it would be different. We thought that we got a post-conviction lawyer, and he was super experienced and found a dozen errors, some of which were egregious and constitutional. The Court of Appeals agreed, If this is true, we're due remedy. We were like, Okay, this is going to be over. It It's just- Hey, Megan. I mean, all this left for you with all of it. It's just ridiculous.


I was going to say, you are over 38 years. You have mastered the art of taking a left, of saying, Look over here. Because looking deep inside the mirror hurts, doesn't it? It was supposed to be different.


It was supposed to be different.


The only way I can tell you… I can give you a couple of tips and tricks on grieving, okay? Most importantly, I want you to pick up a book by David Kessler called Finding Meaning. It's the single best book on grief ever written, okay? There's some important things in there, whether you're grieving the loss of a life that you wanted or whether you're grieving somebody's passed away in your life or you've lost a loved one, whatever. You've had a lot of loss in your I can give you a couple of quick things that you can... Just for you and the audience here. I'm going to tell you, you're going to have to sit down and own this for your body to metabolize it. You're so quick to not feel that hurt, to move on to the next, and to the next, to the next, to the next, even just in this conversation. I want you to I'm going to give my 26-year-old Megan a letter. Say, Dear Megan, I'm sorry. This might sound cheesy, but it might be a matter of you sitting on the floor and literally hugging yourself. But I want you to envision yourself, hugging that 26-year-old girl and saying, Hey, this picture that you have, it's going to be different.


Yeah, I never had time to...


No, I want to change your language, okay? You've chosen not to have time. I want to begin to own these things as choices, because otherwise it feels like the whole world is happening to us all the time. You did take some pretty bold action. I'm going to go The artificial insemination route, it didn't work. Very expensive. You had lots of dreams. You dreamed about holding that baby. You probably started going through names. You went down that rabbit hole, and that's painful. But even in this call, you avoided it. You're like, Yeah, that crummy. No, dude, you got to sit in there for a minute. It feels like a loss. You had a name, right?


Oh, I had a few. Yeah. I had friends that were giving me baby stuff already Of course they were because they were all in this with you. Yeah.


Maybe write a letter to that little baby. Say, I would have loved to have been holding you right now. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet.


That would suck, John.


I know. But this sucks, too, right?




Yes. It's not a slap in the face, but this is a slow being held right underwater, and you can see the light. You can barely, almost breathe, but you just can't. The last thing I would tell you to do is to get, and you may have heard me say this Early on in the show, I used to say this a lot, but I want you to get a cinder block of some sort. I want you to go to Lowe's or Home Depot, get a cinder block, and get some duct tape and write it on that cinder block. Was going to be married by 26. Was going to be this, going to have three kids, going to be this. Was not going to have spent six years with a convicted child molester trying to fight the justice system. Had a different picture when I was 38. I want you to carry that cinder block around your in the backyard for a little while. It's been some time being really sad and really angry, really frustrated. And your shoulders are going to ache, your hands will ache, your forearms will get really tight and heavy. And then after 5 minutes, 20 minutes, however long until it burns.


I want you to throw that thing on the floor, on the ground, somewhere in the back corner of your yard, or out in a field somewhere and say, I'm never picking that up again. I Because choosing to carry that with you only brings misery into today. It does not solve what didn't happen at 27, 28, 31, 33. The question you have to ask yourself now is, what am I going to do now? Am I going to stick with this guy? Is he married to a convicted felon forever? Or in love? I am sticking with him. Okay. Then you have to own the choices.


Knowing all the ins and outs. Yeah.


Great. You have to... I'm choosing to be single for the rest of my life. Or I'm not choosing to be single, but I'm choosing to not have another intimate embrace for the rest of my life. Period. I'm not saying that's a bad choice. I just want you to fully own, specifically, the choices that you make. I'm never going to have a family around a Christmas tree. That's the storybook, traditional kind. You're going to have family, you have your parents, you have cousins, you may adopt a kid, you may have all kinds of things. But I want you to fully own what that choice means. I'm not saying you'll make that choice, man. But the more you stand firm, I'm staying with this guy, and don't acknowledge the cost of that decision, the more your body tries to solve for the gap in the declaration, I will live in this town, in this house, and work this job. I will stay with this convicted child molester because I know he's innocent. Okay, cool. You get to make that choice. Here is the cost on the other side. Your body, as Vanner Kolk says, keeps the score.


It knows. That means we don't have anybody to keep us warm in the winter. That means we don't ever have anybody to scroll and just go shopping. We don't have anybody that's going to surprise us with flowers or ice cream. That's okay, but that's a choice you have to own. When you long for, God, I wish I just had somebody on the couch watching this new season of you have to go, No, I I picked him. I picked him. And this goes for any relationship. Man, I wish I just had a wife that wanted to go to CrossFit with me. I picked her. I wish I had a husband that made more money so I could get the new Tahoe. No, I love him. I picked him. Start with that letter to your 26-year-old self. Tell her you love her. Tell her you've chosen the life that you wanted, and it's hard. Maybe you don't regret it, or maybe you start to keep a cost accounting sheet on the other side and say, All right, if I stay with this guy here, what's it going to cost? It's going to cost this and this and this and this and this take active role in choosing, owning your life.


I just don't want you to wake up at 58 and go, What did I do? I just let it, the whole thing slip through my fingers. And by the way, you're 38. You're just getting started. I'm way older than you. Not way. Kelly is way older than you. I missed a few years older. If you make some changes, you can all be pretty amazing moving forward. We'll be right back. Hey, what's up? Deloney here. Listen, you and me and everybody else on the planet has felt anxious or burned out or chronically stressed at some point. In my new book, Building a Non-Anxious Life, you'll learn the six daily choices that you can make to get rid of your anxious feelings and be able to better respond to whatever life throws at you. So you can build a more peaceful, non-anxious life. Get your copy today at johndaloni. Com. All right, as we wrap up today's show, Take Ownership. Actually, I'm going to do an event with Jaco in a few weeks. I'm going to high five him and say, great book title, Take Ownership. Today's song is by M&M. It's called Walk on Water, featuring the Queen Beyoncé.


The song goes like this. I walk on water, but I ain't Jesus. I walk on water, but only when it freezes. Why are expectations so high? Is it the bar I set? My arms I stretch, but I can't reach, a far cry from it, or it's in my grasp, but as soon as I grab, squeeze, I lose my grip like the flying trapeze. Into the dark, I plummet. Now the sky's blackening. I know the mark's high. Butterflies rip apart my stomach, knowing that no matter what bar as I come with, you're going to harp, gripe, and that's a hard vicodin to swallow. So I scrape these as pressure increases like khakis. I feel the ice cracking because I walk on water, but I ain't no Jesus. I walk on water, but only when it freezes. Set the bar real, real, real high and go get smile along the way. We'll see you soon.