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Brad McDonnell: "To suffer terribly and to know yourself as the cause, that is hell." Good day, Brad McDonnell for Stepping Into Dads Podcast. That was a quote from Jordan Peterson. So today we're going to actually discuss responsibility. What that means, truth and responsibility, and what that means to me. And also, we're going to discuss what the next 10-part series of Stepping Into Dads Podcast is all going to be about. So something that's really been an impactful thing for me in my journey as a stepdad is taking 100% responsibility of my mind, body, spirit, and going in deeper into those elements of my life and taking full responsibility. And diving deep into those areas and seeing where I'm not being responsible and not taking complete ownership of those things. Sometimes I'm good at it and sometimes I'm bad, but that's okay, it's part of this human journey that we have along the way.

Brad McDonnell: So part of the series on that truth and responsibility, I'm going to be interviewing some mentors of mine, also interviewing some brothers in the men's workspace that I'll have access to. So what that will encompass is a free flying discussion, what truth and responsibility means to them. So yeah, we've got some different modalities in there. We've got some breathwork practitioners, we've got some movement specialists, also got some embodiment specialists as well. So all of these things to support us on this stepdad journey and also navigate those tricky waters that come along the way of being a stepdad in a blended family unit. So yeah, I'm really, really excited about it. And a lot of these things are discussing those feelings of being lost, alone and directionless along the journey. And also being able to articulate those parts of inside of ourselves that we need to examine and also bring a little bit of awareness. And see if we can shift some of those deeper perspectives or deeper patterns that we have ingrained for us through our development as children and teens and into early adulthood.

Brad McDonnell: So yeah, for me, the responsibility and truth piece is huge because if we don't take responsibility, we end up being these men-child. That's been me. 100% that's been me along this journey as well. And I still am a man-child within some areas of my relationship with Melissa and the boys as well. Where I'm acting out from some childhood pattern that hasn't been resolved with inside of myself, that it's a limiting belief that externally blaming other things for the way that I'm acting. And taking responsibility of that then allows you to start looking inside of yourself to be going, hey, this is not fucking outside of me, this is what I've got to look at from the inside. And the days of actually blaming everything outside of myself, it's done, it's done. We're shifting and changing and there's so many things these days that are stimulating us and distracting us from taking a little bit of time out to actually go, okay, where are the areas that I'm not taking responsibility?

Brad McDonnell: Am I moving every day? Am I bringing awareness into how I'm acting? Have I got a little bit of space? Am I creating space in my life between those thoughts that are consistently coming through thousands and thousands of times a day? Am I nourishing myself in nature? Am I getting down to the beach? For me sometimes, if I don't go to the beach or sit in the mountains, there's just a feeling inside of myself that, fuck, I need to get grounded. There's so many things moving in my life I need to find some grounding, I need to connect to earth, that nature, which is that real feminine grounding. Not grounding, but the feminine aspect of, oh, just nourished and nurtured. And just catching up with other men sharing in spaces and that created these, you share in these spaces that are created, these containers of opportunities to be held and be sane in some of those sticky parts of your life that you don't necessarily want to share in your relationship with your partner.

Brad McDonnell: It's healthy to sit with other men to actually share some of those things as well. And then there's also opportunities to look and sit in other communities in gatherings with other men and women and give a different perspective of, we know what's happening in your relationship to your partner and to your kids and stuff like that, in a healthy way. Because a lot of these ways that we've been programmed is to get out and have a few beers and you bug each other. Which is good to have a bit of banter, but there's also like, we also need the space to actually share authentically and have a sense of vulnerability to where we go with our shares as well too, instead of just keep suppressing and suppressing and suppressing these things as well.

Brad McDonnell: Which starts to happen with that lack of purpose, lack of connection. As men, we need connection to our grounds, to our roots. We need to be rooted into something, we need to have purpose, we need to be able to have a mission. I was listening to Jocko Willink Podcast, the Jocko Podcast the other day and it's like, every man needs his mission. And I deeply feel that as well. And that pops up into my relationship as well. It's like, you can just be so doing everything in your relationship and you lose track of that purpose and you lose track of your own mission. Which is, now for me, is to serve and to be in service of love and to be serving other men in this space. And it's just so, so tricky with navigating step-families. And it brings up all of your stuff that you need to look at.

Brad McDonnell: Yes, I'm super excited to dive into some of these really, really cool modalities and also talking to some men that have had some experience with stepdads, being either stepdads themselves or having stepdads. We're trying to stick on that theme to be able to support as many stepdads along the blended family journey as we can. But yeah, it's just such an interesting space to be in, and at the moment I'm shifting and changing myself. And trying to have the dance of that masculine and feminine stuff that's popping up for me, especially in my life. And transitioning, turning 42 this year, I can feel the body shifting, I can feel my energy shifting in a way that's more embracing a flow with my mission and purpose, instead of trying to push all the time.

Brad McDonnell: So that's a really interesting space for me to be in because that's why I go into counsel with other men. To be able to be held, but also have a mirror to shine up, okay, I need to look at these aspects inside of myself and reflect. And look into that mirror and reflect what's being said and what's being portrayed from my life as well. And it's so important and I'm so grateful that I do have that in my life. And that's all what I want to create for other men. Is to have this container, be it a podcast, be it a coaching group or be it one-on-one, that men have got a space to share, especially stepdads to share and to be able to be sane in all of themselves. Not just the good parts that we show up into groups and oh, yes, you'll be all right mate, but that just doesn't cut it anymore. That is not what we're here for. We're here to find deep meaning and deep purpose into our journey.

Brad McDonnell: And I think my view is that life is suffering, that it's suffering. But let's bring awareness to that suffering and look to find peace within that suffering in parts and move with the flow of life as well too. It's like, life for a man is like the sun. You have this rising up of a beautiful sunrise and all this energy that comes with it. I don't know if you've watched a sunrise and done some sun-gazing, it's an incredible experience. And you just get full of this energy and you actually feel that this life force is coming from the sun, which feeds everything in this planet. And then it goes halfway through. So it's like your life. You've got all this energy and vibrance and vigor, and you get through to your 20s and 30s and you're still going, you're still going, you're 30. And it gets to that midday area where you're starting to, ooh, okay, what's the meaning of all of this? What am I here actually to do? What is this actually for?

Brad McDonnell: For me, my experience of that midday was looking around, left and right, earning good money and having a great lifestyle and traveling here and going to Europe here and doing this and going into the snow here and having all my toys and buying this brand new mountain bike and buying all this really cool stuff, and then just going, oh, that's still not giving me that feeling that I'm looking for. And I keep looking for it outside of myself. So that midday sun is like, okay, it's a changing of that sun where it starts to creep into a sunset. And then as men today, we're not actually taught of this changeover in this life. It's, we use this 20 to 30 year old model when we get to our 40s and 50s and we start to move, we try and move the same way and act the same way and dress the same way as we did in our 20s and 30s. And we're just so unconscious to the fact that the universe as it flows is different or sings a different song, once you get past midday, as a man.

Brad McDonnell: So for me, it's just starting to slowly ... it's been a painful fucking journey to actually slowly just feel what I need to feel, embody what I need to do. And it's been a massive struggle. And I would just keep going. I'm super lucky and blessed and grateful that I've got a super supportive partner like Melissa, that supports me and gives me the opportunity to then shine the mirror back. But it hasn't had its challenges. It's been a rough ride when it comes to, as a woman, she wants this grounded, really solid man that's not flipping all over the place, and I've been the exact opposite. All this flipping around, carrying on with this experience of meeting the midday sun. Whereas it's like, okay, it feels like 10:00 AM still. I want to do my jujitsu, I want to try my kettlebells and I want to run.

Brad McDonnell: My body's not reacting the same way as it did in my 30s and 20s and 30s, I'm getting frustrated and I'm a lot more tired and stressed and frustrated and stuff like that. It's not just stopping, slowing up a little bit. And those expectations on where I need to be, I just start letting go of some of those expectations of where I should be right now or just realize that I'm actually in a perfect spot where I am right now. I don't need to be anywhere else or need to be able to have the time to reflect, I need to have the time and space to actually go within and just feel what I need to feel. And for me to be able to nurture myself has been a fucking challenge because it doesn't come natural to me. And I've talked about this before. It's like, me to nurture myself is a big deal.

Brad McDonnell: And to have the awareness and taking the responsibility to actually go, hey, I'll just need some time out here. And it's like, okay, I don't need to be able to be around a lot of people right now. I don't actually need to go out and do that run or throw those kettlebells around. Maybe you just need to go on a quiet walk along the beach. Maybe you just need to take a few deep breaths, just walk the dogs, go for a bike ride. And it doesn't have to be this ordeal, push, push, push, push, push, push. Struggle, struggle, struggles. Suffer, suffer, suffer. And it's not until we actually start to move, as I said, move with the flow of how we're supposed to move and surrounding myself with some people and men, especially that have gone through that process.

Brad McDonnell: It's so important, because as I said before, we're not actually given those men and we don't see a lot of those men in eldership anymore. We tucked those men away that have gone through this whole process. And some of those men haven't actually gone past that 12 o'clock and actually adjusted their lives. So when they're coming closer to sunset, they've still got the same principles and values and core beliefs that they had when they were in their 20s and 30s. And you can see it through rugby fraternities and all of these group fraternities that just don't evolve in their thinking and being. And it's not until they start embracing the more feminine aspect in this, it's not saying that you go soft, it's just embracing both and making both of them work with such a masculine warrior energy.

Brad McDonnell: If you refer to Carl Jung's archetypal work, that you're in that warrior mode where you just want to slay every thinking, kill every thinking. It's not until you start moving through the process of actually being in that true essence of who we're here to be. And it's just, you start aligning back into, okay, I just need some space here. I need to do that yoga over there, or now it's time to ... ah, actually I'm feeling this energy, I'm going to go do some jujitsu or do something that's art. Do some art therapy or go on a retreat or do a breathwork session, or we've got access to so many things these days to be able to have this dance. And I feel like that's a great analogy too, just to be in that dance of life.

Brad McDonnell: We're so resistant to change as men, it's just so foreign to us to change. And once we start embracing change and once we start getting into the feel of life and we start going from that 12 o'clock to two o'clock, it's a different rhythm now. Life has a different rhythm to it. Let's bring a little bit more awareness that we start, we've had some time on this thing, we've gone through that tunnel of life, we've had a few days in crisis, we've broken out with our wives or partners, and we've actually gone down that tunnel of darkness. And we've actually faced some death in our life, we've experienced a deep sense of grief to life. We start to move through where there's experience of death, which I've shared in a couple of episodes.

Brad McDonnell: It's a profound experience. And we have the opportunity to say, hey, fuck, we actually are mortal, we're actually going to die and we're actually going to see a lot of people in our life perish and suffer. And I've seen it firsthand. If you don't deal with what you need to deal with today, it will catch up with you when you're on your way out. And I've seen it and I've experienced it with someone that's had that direct experience. And we get the opportunity to look at the stuff that we need to look at and let go of. So we don't then pass on ... when we pass through this existence in this human body, that we don't then take that on to whatever next journey, the whatever that is. We leave a little bit of that stuff that we resolve back on in our life.

Brad McDonnell: And it's just, you start to get to that three to four o'clock, and as I said before, having some elders around with you is amazing. And it's something that's hugely benefited me in my life, and that's flowed on into my family as well. And we get to be able to be responsible for our shit. And that's a huge thing. And you get to be able to heal lineages of seven lifetimes back and seven lifetimes forward once you start taking responsibility of your mind, body, spirit. You get to heal some of those childhood traumas and some of those traumas that have been from the father or his father and his father's father that you've just genetically got. And through the epigenetics, which is your surrounding outside of your genetics that you've been brought up with. You get to start to look at some of that stuff that's buried deep within the cells of the human body.

Brad McDonnell: And with those modalities I discussed earlier, you get to have a fucking look at them and they get up and you get to feel them. Last week, I just had a direct experience of like, ooh, coming from my balls, it was like this shaking. And Melissa and I were talking about this deep, deep stuff, and it was coming up and I could feel it through the body, this deep trauma that was coming out through my body. And it just sat in my heart and it was all around for me from not my personal lies, I'm not good enough. And it's a process Melissa and I run that we learned from some mentors. It's like, what have you been telling yourself since you've been born that we call a personal lie? And it's like fuck, yeah, there it is.

Brad McDonnell: It's like, I'm not good enough, I'm not loved. And you bring that into your relationships where you're actually sabotaging your relationship, you're the saboteur, the victim. You become, you're telling these stories and it just destroys your relationship. And I've got an abundance of love coming towards me and sometimes I do everything in my power to sabotage that. It's us, I usually do it. It's Melissa and the boys and then it's me. But there's such an overwhelming amount of love that's coming towards me that it triggers that personal lie within me that actually just goes, I can't handle this. I'm not taking responsibility for that part of me that needs to be feeling love, to be able to have the abundance of love to then soak in.

Brad McDonnell: So responsibility for me is not just, okay, fucking make your bed or do your hair or brush your teeth. It's, responsibility collectively in every area of your life. And that's what I want to get into in this series, is to get really stuck into those parts of us that we need to take responsibility on. And in a step-family and a blended family journey, you get every opportunity to look at every area of that. And I'm part of some Facebook groups, and I see it time after time, after time, where everyone is externally blaming everything in their life, in their blended family life. And then, it's very limited that I actually see people taking responsibility. And there's success stories that I do see of people taking a holistic approach to their responsibility. And that's rare. It's very, very rare that I see in that blended family, step-family journey that people are actually doing that.

Brad McDonnell: Because there's so many moving parts and it's such a dynamic space to be in that if you're not sitting in that place of responsibility, on how I'm going to act in any given moment, it's a huge piece. Because, if you're not taking responsibility and you're disconnected to yourself, it can be the default is suffering. It's 100% suffering. And then this journey then turns into one of just suffering, which life is suffering. But we can ease that suffering a little bit and bring it all a little bit closer with that attention onto those details of inside of our ... in our lives that can bring some joy and some peace and happiness. And I think that's what ultimately we can share, is just this sense of deep peace and happiness and contentment with where we're at.

Brad McDonnell: And if you're always blaming these things outside of you, it's going to be a long, long road. And you'll just go from one relationship to the next, to the next. And why I know? Because that's exactly what I've done. That's exactly. And it's not until I've actually forcibly put upon myself the thing of taking responsibility. And we do all this men's work and we sit in circles and as men we go off and do these little inner journeys, we go out and [inaudible 00:24:29] nature and it's fantastic and I love that work. But it's not until we actually get back home and we actually are in the confines of a house and we're in relationship with our loved ones, our kids, and that's where the real work is.

Brad McDonnell: And we can do as much work, inner work, outer work, childhood traumas. We can look at all these fantastic things. We can go on all these rituals and rights and stuff like that, but it don't mean shit if you're at home and you've been a dick. And that's what I've been. My journey is, I'm fantastic out and about and doing all those wonderful things and being in solitude and doing my mental work and sitting together in circle and speaking all this language, but where I've let myself down in the past is I've gone home and been an absolute dick, and been reacting to things that are just so trivial. And I think a lot of people can relate to that, is it's just, we do the work so that we can then go home and then the real work starts.

Brad McDonnell: And for me, a great mentor of mine and a brother, Johnny [inaudible 00:25:52] says the same thing. It's like, we teach what we want to learn. And that's exactly where I'm at, is I love sharing and being of service to men in this space with stepdads, but also with men in men's groups and also running retreats and workshops. But I do that because there's a huge sense of responsibility and accountability for me to be in my own truth and me to then go home and be able to be that person that I am with other men. And also, come home and just live a life that is one of rich and fullness and one that actually just is rewarding. And to do a good job of being a good partner, to be a good stepdad. And that's hard sometimes for me, and I think other men can share that, other stepdad's can share that as well.

Brad McDonnell: But yeah, that's why I'm super excited about this series on truth and responsibility. I feel that we'll get some good responses for it. And yeah, definitely join us on the journey of inner work, self discovery, whatever little tag or little label you want to call it, or just the work. Yeah. Show up, be responsible. If you want to find out any more information on the stuff that we're doing here at Stepping Into Dads, just jump onto the website, steppingintodads.com. Yeah, share this podcast with as many people as you possibly can. I've got some really cool things coming up. We've got some courses that we're releasing online that start on the 1st of April, which funny enough is my birthday. April Fools' Day.

Brad McDonnell: Yeah, so if you'd like to follow any of those things, Instagram, Stepping Into Dads, Facebook, Stepping Into Dads. We've got a Facebook support group as well on the website. We've got a free resource that goes into helping stepdads navigate the tricky waters. So yeah, I appreciate the time and yeah, please give us a couple of thumbs up and also give us some good rating. That'd be awesome. Okay, much love. Brad.

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