Jessica and Melissa are joined by Dr. Jonathan Brajtbord, a urologist, integrated physician, and men's lifestyle expert. Drawing from his personal journey of transformation, Jonathan unveils how inner work not only reshaped his relationship with his wife, Sarah, but also enhanced his ability to empathize with and aid his patients. He navigates the intricate landscape of societal norms around masculinity, challenging barriers that often inhibit men from embracing vulnerability and change.
Throughout the conversation, Jonathan emphasizes the importance of creating safe spaces where men can connect authentically and vulnerably. He advocates for the integration of small, sustainable changes into daily routines, debunking the notion that substantial personal growth requires drastic steps. The discussion culminates with insights into the role of integrity in personal growth, plus the power of holding someone to their highest self. This episode is a candid exploration of the complex landscape of men's emotional health and the power of self-work in facilitating healthier relationships and personal well-being.
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Podcast: Inner Rebel
Episode Title: Jonathan
Host(s): Jessica, Melissa
Jonathan - 0:0:0
It's been so fascinating talking to women and men, you know, the men, the resistance, the women wanting their husbands to go and yeah, you can't force guys into this work. They have to arrive on it themselves and how they get there and when it's such an interesting dynamic and journey for each individual person.
Jessica - 0:0:20
Jonathan - 0:0:21
Jessica - 0:0:23
I'm curious what you would say to women who are in that situation, in their partnerships, in their lives where they aren't being met or their person isn't stepping up the way that you did.
Jonathan - 0:0:34
Yeah, I mean, for me personally, I resisted the work so much and I mean, you know, Sarah, like she will give me the subtle reminders like, here's a book to read or here's something that you would enjoy, I think you would enjoy. Like do this, do this, do this. And the more she did that, the more I dug my heels in and resisted. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And personally for me, it wasn't until Sarah showed me the emotion of what my lack of doing this type of work was doing to her and our relationship and the real sadness that she was experiencing, the real loss in our relationship that she was experiencing because I wasn't doing it for some reason in me, once that was expressed, everything kinda like clicked and I was like, oh shit, I could actually lose her. Oh fuck, I really need to do this. Yeah. And that was really the big catalyst for me starting. And then there was other layers to work through and the past of my resistance to work through. But that was really the big turning point was Sarah expressing the emotion and then me realizing that I could lose her was a, was a shit for me.
Jessica - 0:1:40
I still think that's a really big deal because <laugh> from experience, I have witnessed men being so afraid to look at themselves and so afraid to do the work that they would rather lose everything than have to go there.
Jonathan - 0:1:56
Yeah. It hat is true. And in my experience with Sarah you can't force anybody to do the work but you can hold a standard for how you want to be met. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and how you want your partner to show up and as long as you are holding that standard mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you're honest about it yeah. You might have to walk away. And that is heartbreaking. And that is terrible and sad. The alternative is a lifelong of unfulfilled needs and desires and which is worse. Yeah. I don't know. And it's not like it's easy to walk away. I know that when I felt like Sarah was gonna walk away she actually took the kids she was planning on leaving anyways for the weekend with the kids and I was on call so I always stayed and I was working and I had this home was empty and it was like all I was doing was like go to the hospital go home.
Jonathan - 0:2:46
And it was like, holy shit. Like this could be the reality, right? And I was like, no. And I didn't, did not expect this to come up like this <laugh> um, you know, this is the reality, right? And at that moment I had to realize I headed to the work to start repairing and then moving forward and the repair was something I didn't really anticipate needing to do. I thought I could just kinda like pick up and move forward. And there was a lot of years of the neglect and the hurt that Sarah had felt that I had to really work through before we could even start moving forward. And that was really unexpected. I thought I could just keep going.
Jessica - 0:3:29
We have just, we just dove right in <laugh>. I
Melissa - 0:3:31
Know. I was like, you just, I was like trying to get my sound figured out cause my headphones are really quiet. I'm like, it's actually already started. We're already in it. <laugh>.
Jessica - 0:3:40
Yeah, we're, we're in it. We're in it.
Melissa - 0:3:42
If we even just like start to have a conversation in the beginning, then it's like we're off and running before we even realize
Jessica - 0:3:48
I'm okay with this.
Jonathan - 0:3:49
Isn't it fascinating? She said what? You create the opportunity in a trusted space, right? Like I listen to you guys, I, I know a little bit about so that space is trusted. I feel like it's for men too. If you can create the space for men to feel comfortable and they get there, they're gonna go. At least that's been my experience.
Jessica - 0:4:7
Can we slow down for one second cuz we haven't introduced our guest and maybe explain who Sarah is and who Jonathan is and what we're talking about today.
Melissa - 0:4:17
<laugh>. Yes, totally. So I know we, we, we started in the middle and now we're going backwards. Jonathan Brajtbord is a urologist, an integrated physician, a men's lifestyle expert and devoted husband and father as a urologist at Greater Boston Urology. He specializes in a variety of urological conditions including men's health, erectile dysfunction, voiding dysfunction, which I had to Google and urologic cancers. Through his integrative approach. He combines nutrition, lifestyle, emotional health and as a physician, Jonathan sees countless men in his practice who experience manifestations of their fears, stress, anxiety, marital and professional issues, developing a deeper understanding of the physiology of our emotions and how that affects the body. Combined with lessons learned on his own path of personal development, led him to create a signature program Men's work, a guy's guide to growth and host in-person masculine embodiment, retreats
Jonathan - 0:5:12
Sounds so official. <laugh>,
Melissa - 0:5:15
You are so official.
Jonathan - 0:5:16
<laugh>, thank you for that.
Melissa - 0:5:17
My personal experience with your wife and being at a retreat recently with her in Tulum and being in her council, which is a very intimate mentorship program with her and she's been a huge part of me taking my vision and my life, not only for my business, for my marriage, I mean the two of you. And I know you've done this for hundreds and hundreds of couples, but it's really inspirational And one of the things when I stepped into the work with Sarah, she's like, you can't set your marriage aside and come work with me. It's not a thing that I allow, I actually won't let you into my program if your marriage isn't gonna be part of the work if it is. And so I was very excited when I reached out to her about interviewing you and you were like, oh my gosh, yes, I'm in. Even without knowing you, knowing her and knowing the difference that y'all made, it feels really special to have you here. And I was just getting to know you in your work more and I was watching you do men's work on your Instagram page and I'm like literally crying watching you lead men <laugh>. And I was like, oh, I'm gonna be a wreck again.
Jonathan - 0:6:19
Melissa - 0:6:19
Yeah. So thank, thank you for your courage and thank you for doing that repair work. I just really wanna honor and reflect that back to you that it's, it's amazing, important work and truly I know men everywhere are starving for this. Women are starving for this and we're really grateful to have you here to share the true journey cuz we're not here to be like, oh Jonathan's a perfect husband now and look at him go, you know, it's like this is the shit storm that we've had to go through in order to bring this work to life.
Jonathan - 0:6:46
Well thank you very much.
Jessica - 0:6:48
So we just dove in right from the beginning. I'm sorry to interrupt that flow, but let's maybe then pedal back <laugh> for a moment and we were talking about your relationship with your wife Sarah Jenks and that there were some problems in the relationship that she wanted to address and you were resistant initially to addressing them. Totally.
Jonathan - 0:7:9
Jessica - 0:7:10
Asked you I think to go to therapy and you said why? What's wrong with how things are <laugh>? I laughed so hard because I'm going to call him out a little bit. My, my ex who I know is probably listening to this, he was 23 so he'll forgive me for sharing this. But when I first got together with him and he was really struggling with anxiety and having a lot of his own stuff at the time, I was like, have you ever considered journaling? And his response was, why
Jonathan - 0:7:41
Jessica - 0:7:42
I don't know what I would get out of that or something like that. Yeah. And I was like, okay, maybe someone's self-reflection, maybe putting your thoughts on the page and having an objective look at them. You know, he ended up doing a lot of journaling but I was laughing cuz why is that the standard response from men to their women who are asking them to take a look at themselves? Why is the question why? What would I get outta that <laugh>
Jonathan - 0:8:8
<laugh>? I mean I think there's this fear of what you're gonna find, right? And I think I was so afraid of what I used to exist in the status quo cuz I felt comfortable and safe. Like I didn't understand that at the time. But now looking back on it, I think men will, or men can default to whatever is most comfortable and what's most comfortable is typically not changing and whatever sort of standard of living that their peers or in the case of relationship, a girlfriend or a, you know, partner sets. And if that is frustration, if that is like an unhealthy dynamic but it feels okay then we're just gonna stay there. That's the default and that's a generalization for sure. But I think it takes something or somebody to say, hey there's more and then it's, oh shit, what do I have to get through in order to get to that more? And I was terrified of what we were gonna find and what was gonna uncover and maybe Sarah wasn't happy and maybe I wasn't happy and then uh oh, now I'm not happy. And that world starts to crumble, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
Melissa - 0:9:12
I'm curious if you had any, any other examples in your life cuz you were obviously very achievement oriented as a, as an athlete and as a medical doctor and having the striving underneath you of achieving the next thing. And there's a lot of examples of what striving can do for you or what achieving can bring to your life. Did you have any examples of men prior to Sarah bringing this to your attention that you were like, oh I can see that that might be something beneficial for me. Or were you just starting from a blank slate trying to figure it out on your own?
Jonathan - 0:9:44
Ooh uh, <laugh>, that's a touchy one. Um, which is okay, it's important, right? Cause I think family origin stories are really important. So it was really a blank slate. My father is a great dad and he's a great person, but he and my mom split up when I was 2223, right? As Sarah and I were like getting really serious. And so I was like, what is marriage like? What is our relationship? What the fuck is this? Mm-hmm <affirmative>. It really started imprinting a lot on me and I recognized it was gonna be a problem. So I went to therapy and I tried to work on it but like it wasn't until either we're getting married or actually it was post-marriage that a lot of these patterns started coming up again that I didn't know how to process them. I didn't have an example because as great as my dad was, he was not the best husband for my mom. They just totally misfired in lots of ways and they have <inaudible> now. They're healing it and it's great. It's been a while. But watching my parents struggle at the end of their marriage and throughout the divorce was really impactful for me and very formative for me to be able to try to say No, I want something different than what that was.
Jessica - 0:10:55
I'm sure you've heard, if you've listened to our podcast, you've heard us ask, who did you think you were supposed to be? So what did you think a man was supposed to be that you were supposed to grow up to be when you were younger?
Jonathan - 0:11:10
Well it's funny, I knew that question was coming <laugh>, so I had to all
Melissa - 0:11:15
Jonathan - 0:11:16
Not prepared, but when I heard you asked the first time, boom, it was like instant. Oh my god. And what I was like, why is that so emotional for me? Hmm. Um, you know, when I look back on the things that when I was a kid, like I really were drawn to it, but I wanted to do honestly, and I had told very few people this, but being a rabbi was one of the things like I really wanted to do. Wow. I was pretty spiritual as a kid, very religious, like would go to temple with my father, sit there and reflect and write notes in the book on the side Mars and stuff. But I didn't have any examples of what it was like to be a successful rabbi. Right? I loved the rabbi I had when I was a kid, but when I looked around, my father was a physician.
Jonathan - 0:11:57
Most of our family friends were physicians or lawyers. I thought that was a definition of what success was. That was what I was supposed to be. And so in order for me, I thought to create the life that I wanted, that's what I had to do. And it kind of started me on this career oriented, you know, next thing, next thing, next thing. Work, work, work. Without a lot of reflection of is this actually what I want? Is this actually making me happy? Is this the type of life that I wanna lead? And it really wasn't until after my training where I was like again, supposed to have arrived at the end of this big culminating process of college, of medical school and residency and all this hard work. I'm like, oh shit, is this it? I've arrived and now what? And so I was like, oh my god, how do I make this mine? How do I make this more reflective of who I am? So now trying to blend the the, the worlds
Melissa - 0:12:53
I am like how ironic that you married somebody who became an ordained priestess <laugh>.
Jonathan - 0:12:58
Melissa - 0:12:59
Like your younger self had no idea what he was actually up to.
Jonathan - 0:13:4
<laugh> they're true.
Melissa - 0:13:5
The full circle journey of your life is, is amazing.
Jessica - 0:13:8
I just feel very grateful that you shared that you wanted to be a rabbi. That made me very emotional actually. And I do think it's really interesting that you can look back and see that you gravitated towards this kind of work even from a young age. You identified as being spiritual and still it was hard for you to come to the work.
Jonathan - 0:13:31
Yeah, I mean in lots of ways like the spirituality is beaten outta me in lots of ways. Like my training in medical school and residency really did a number on me like individually personally. And everybody has their own experience with that training type regimen or hours or what we went through. But for me, I just felt my life force or like my joy or enthusiasm was really beaten out of me. And yeah, then you add the stresses of marriage, the stresses of finances and we had two young kids during that time. So it was like these real life events just took me out of who I thought I was or where I thought I was supposed to be doing or any sort of connection with myself. And it's been a process to try to rediscover that and find that again.
Jessica - 0:14:19
So Sarah said to you once I'm sick of this shit, I need to be able to dream with my partner. She was asking you to imagine yourselves five years from now. She kept checking in with you to say, what can you imagine for us? And this was really triggering for you. Why was that so triggering?
Jonathan - 0:14:38
Well, for me, asking me to dream about my future when I was so unhappy in the present just was so earth shatteringly difficult. Like I was just trying to barely get through the day without yelling at somebody. And sometimes I did not get through the day without blowing up at somebody. So the idea that treating me into the future, what would that be like? How could I even begin to think about that possibility? I'm just trying to survive
Melissa - 0:15:8
When I imagine it must have been really hard when you had this big dream you'd worked your whole life for this dream. Hmm. And so being like, do you wanna dream more? And you're like, I don't really like my current dream <laugh>. Yeah. I don't have a good example of a dream working out where I'm thriving.
Jonathan - 0:15:25
No awareness of it but absolutely. Yeah. That you nailed it completely. And so for me, when Sarah would ask me to dream, I felt like it was a total rejection of the way things were here. I was having gone through all this stuff, I've arrived at my job, I've arrived at the house we have, I've arrived at like the three gyms that we have. This is supposed to be the dream. Like what the fuck are you talking about? Like what's the next dream? Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So yeah, so much for me was how scared I was to fail around that dream of not giving Sarah that dream, not giving myself that dream. So there's a big fear of failure because for better or for worse, like I hadn't really failed that many times in my life. I had fallen but I hadn't really failed and I was failing at my marriage. I just didn't really miss it at the
Jessica - 0:16:14
Time. You said earlier that you think part of the reason men resist this work is they're scared of what they might find. So what were you scared of at that time of finding?
Jonathan - 0:16:29
Hmm. I think I was scared of really admitting how unhappy I was even after all these years, right? Like after putting Sarah and my kids through all the crap in residency and totally not there for the vast majority of their lives, I was terrified of admitting that I was so unhappy despite all that. And it was easier for me to pretend and just get through the day than admit that that was the hardest thing for me to admit and to apologize.
Jessica - 0:17:2
And the unhappiness was translating into how you were treating everybody and blowing up at everybody.
Jonathan - 0:17:8
Oh yeah. It was a total projection, right? So it was way easier to be angry at other people. It's very easier to be frustrated with Sarah or my kids. I have no patience than it was to be like, no, I feel all this inside. And this is just like the outward projection of
Melissa - 0:17:22
It. There's a lot of men who can relate to what you're saying. What do you say to them as one of their first steps in this journey? If they're walking through maybe even before they get to your doorway of men's work? Yeah. What do you say to them to be like, okay, here's what you can do just to get started on this journey.
Jonathan - 0:17:40
I mean the first, so the way the program works, right? It's kind of divided up into two halves. The first half and two thirds of that half is just all about admitting to being overwhelmed, right? Admitting that life is hard right now. I'm overwhelmed, I'm exhausted, I'm not happy. There's such power in just acknowledging and admitting it because once we name it, we can't keep lying to ourselves about it. Right? If we don't speak, that's what's so
Jessica - 0:18:9
Jonathan - 0:18:11
For people. Yeah, exactly. For sure. Once
Jessica - 0:18:14
You name it, you have to do something.
Jonathan - 0:18:15
You have to do something, right. That's why it was so hard for me to admit that I was hacked with my life. I was like, fuck, now I gotta do something about what am I gonna do about it? I don't have
Melissa - 0:18:23
Time do anything about it.
Jonathan - 0:18:25
No. And yeah, so I'll tell you. So there was a point in after like I had kind of been into this work a little bit where I had what I would consider to be like a breakdown. I couldn't, couldn't breathe. My chest was heavy, it was in the middle of the night and I was trying to go to sleep and I couldn't. And Sarah like being in what she does, like she held space, she calmed down, she moved the energy. But like she texted my partner and was like, J's not coming to work tomorrow. I didn't head it. And I had admitted to Sarah that there were times when like I felt it was gonna be easier to, I was not suicidal, but I could imagine that easier than to change my life. I was that stuck and I was that dug in to resisting the change. Yeah. That I could imagine that being an easier process. Which is terrifying. I was terrified. You're not
Jessica - 0:19:19
Alone in that though. You're that I know that that thought is a prevalent thought for a lot of people. Yeah, thank
Jonathan - 0:19:27
You. I have not admit to that, to a lot of people at all. So <laugh>, it's, yeah. Thank you. Yeah. That's scary. Um, but so go back to your question. Sorry.
Jessica - 0:19:38
Thank you for sharing that.
Jonathan - 0:19:40
Yeah, you're welcome. Um, there is such power to admitting that you're overwhelmed. There is such power to admitting that you're out of integrity about how you want to live your life. And those are my opinion. Again, for me in my own journey, the first steps that really helped me move and shift was just an acknowledgement and kind of getting out of your head and then you can get into action. Then you can do something about it and start to see some of the benefits of moving through that overwhelm, moving through being out of integrity with what you say you're gonna do.
Jessica - 0:20:16
Jonathan - 0:20:17
So that's the intro that I give to men
Jessica - 0:20:20
And I think what's so scary for people about owning that something is wrong, saying it out loud like we said, then you have to do something about it. Is that if you have built a life out of integrity, there's so much fear about everything crumbling down, everything falling apart if you actually start to be honest with yourself. Yeah.
Jonathan - 0:20:43
Jessica - 0:20:44
So let's talk about change and how change works cuz I really appreciate that you don't believe that people have to change outside of the context of their lives. Yeah. And you've even put words to things about what men think that they need to do <laugh> in order to find that change. And I've experienced that version of events. So I really appreciate that you truly believe that in the day-to-day fabric of our lives we can make these shifts and actually repair and keep intact the things that we value versus needing to blow it all up. Yeah. So can you speak a little bit to that in your experience through that healing in your relationship and making those changes in a sustainable way in your life?
Jonathan - 0:21:38
Yeah, for sure. I mean it's a core belief of mine that men are able, I think people, but I'll speak to the men, you know, men are able to make those changes within the relationship, the marriage, the partnership with kids, right? Like the idea that you have to go off and live in the jungle or go live in India or Thailand for six weeks. Like that's just, it might be easier to some way, maybe it's harder to some, but I think being with your partner, working on it on a daily basis, like that's where real growth can happen and that's where their true change can occur. And is it harder? Maybe? But for me, I had, I needed to firm to myself and get Sarah's confirmation that we are both all in, right? And we we're both all in. What does that mean? That means that I show up and I do the work.
Jonathan - 0:22:29
That means I do the repair. That means that I'm going to hold myself to the integrity and how to get back and lighted about that and keep going forward. And something about the feminine energy is like if I say I'm gonna do something and I do it nine times, but the one time I don't do it, Sarah's gonna called me out. Cuz it doesn't matter about the other eight times, it's that nighttime or that 10 times that you didn't do it. That's important. So maintaining your integrity in your word with, and again within the daily job, kids life routine, how can you show up differently? Because it's fine to go off but then you have to come back. What does your life look like when you come back? How then do you get, feel, how then do you change? And then you know, it's better just to do it all at once. That way you work on all the kinks of, so keep going.
Jessica - 0:23:15
You have a perfect practice ground right in front of you. <laugh>.
Jonathan - 0:23:18
Yeah. Yeah. Like living in Peru, living in Thailand, like at least for me that wasn't an option. I mean that's not real life, right? That's not my life. My kids are here, my family is here. That's where I'm gonna be. How can I be the best version of myself in this scenario here? So when
Melissa - 0:23:35
You said I'm all in, so there's, there's being all in to working out things in our marriage, there's being all in to being a mother, a father, but the all in that I'm really interested in for you is all in for you. Cuz it's not enough to be like, oh, I wanna be a great husband. Right? Like these external things. Often what I find is are they're the triggers that motivate us to start to excavate some stuff within ourselves. But ultimately you're all in on you.
Jonathan - 0:24:4
Yeah, for sure. Right? And I think as an ex-athlete, like I always used to look for the valid shot side. Like my coach told me I did a good job. Am I getting an award or an accolade or championship or whatever? But no, it has to come from you. And this was I guess, I think part of the process and there's layers to it, right? It's like yes, the relationship with Sarah kind of brought me into it, but then I realized how unhappy I personally was and I needed to make the changes for me. And so when I had that panic attack, that's when I signed, I was like, you know, Sarah had been trying to get me to go to Sacred Sons for years and I resisted, right? We resist the things we need and that night, but like a four day retreat and I was like, I have to do this. It is not working. I'm literally having a breakdown. I need to do something different. And I pivoted and I shifted and that was a big catalyst for me and a big change opportunity for me and growth Edge going there. So.
Melissa - 0:25:1
And what year was that when that happened? How long ago was that?
Jonathan - 0:25:3
That was 2000 September of 2021.
Melissa - 0:25:7
Okay. So a lot
Jonathan - 0:25:8
In my life. Two years radically different. Radically different. I
Melissa - 0:25:12
Didn't realize it was that recent in the,
Jonathan - 0:25:15
So Sarah and I, again, these are the different stages, right? They're different layers to the onion or whatever it is. We started our couple's therapy in San Francisco when we were literally on the brink of things going really south. This was during residency where like my residents knew like the only time I was unavailable was the 45 minutes when I was in couples therapy. That was it. Otherwise they had free access to me 24 hours a day. It's amazing how many co-residents ended up using the same therapists <laugh> based off the chain. We gave him a lot of business <laugh>, but like that was in San Francisco. And then we kind of continued intermittent couples therapy while we moved to Massachusetts. But shit really started hitting the fan and like a really unsustainable way in 2019, 2020 2021. And it was kind of a long and drawn our process for some of it.
Jonathan - 0:26:4
But 2021, that was, that was the year that things were really rough for me personally. Wow. And that's been like an turbo boost since then. Wow. So a lot can change and that's what's so amazing. It's like it's hope so much can change so quickly. I thought that it would take so much time and I think the hardest step is always the first step, right? The hardest step is always the first one. But if you take the first step and then in my experience I saw the benefits of how I was feeling. I saw the benefits of how I was showing up differently, of how I felt. Then I was able to like just keep running and keep accelerating and staying open to, to it. So a lot can change quickly if you're open.
Jessica - 0:26:46
Why were you afraid to tell people that you were doing inner work?
Jonathan - 0:26:50
<laugh>? I mean there's yeah. Where to begin. Um, there's still a stigma around it. I think it's changing. There's definitely a stigma in the medical field about it. So it's Oh, interest, like interesting. Yeah. You know, part of it was, it felt weird and many that I was participant doing the work that I needed to do the work right? And haven't figured out because look at how shiny everything else is. Like what do you mean you're doing this work? Everything looks so good, why do you need this work? So that was one thing to kind of work through. And many did. I needed the work and many did. I needed the help or the support and the coaching. And then when I started leading med, it was like, well you're supposed to just be a physician. Why are you not just a physician? For me, there's this fear of doing things a little bit differently outside of the box. Right? The inner rebel, if you will. <laugh> <laugh>. Um,
Melissa - 0:27:39
I was like, oh, say the name of the show.
Jessica - 0:27:41
This is the boat <laugh>.
Melissa - 0:27:43
When they dropped the line of the movie. Yeah,
Jonathan - 0:27:45
Exactly. Exactly. No, I mean there's, there's, I felt a lot of pressure to just do what I was trained to do. And the Rihanna was, I was cutting off so much of myself just to do that on a daily basis. And that's what was really suffering. I was suffering because I wasn't my fully expressed self. So then getting into this work, I have literally had to rebel first against myself, then against like my partners at work and then really claim that I'm doing this and really own and honor it. That it was important to me. I think it brings stuff to my patients that is different and unique, but mostly, mostly I did it for me because it's a, a form of self-expression that I really appreciate. I really enjoyed doing the work. I love connecting with the menist level. So it's great. But yeah, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being something, doing something a little bit different, right? It was hard
Melissa - 0:28:34
When I think you're speaking to something really important and that it's, it's actually okay to keep it close to you for a while. And I think that's a really common journey. And often somebody might see you speaking now and they're like, oh I could never do that. Right. Or people see, you know, people compare. What is the phrase that you're ending to? Someone's beginning. I used to be terrified of public speaking and now I'm like, put me on stage. You know, like <laugh> things change so much over time.
Jonathan - 0:28:58
I'd pay for that. You're great. I'll bet you'd be really good.
Melissa - 0:29:1
You know what you will one day Jonathan <laugh> maybe in like a year and your wife will be there on stage with me. Just
Jonathan - 0:29:5
Melissa - 0:29:6
Planting that. It's actually already been planted. <laugh>. <laugh> we're watering. There you go. But I think that this is just something to say that it's okay, it's okay to start your journey quietly. It's okay to do it one-on-one with a therapist. It's okay to tiptoe your way into a really small sacred group. And I find that often, this is really how most people do it. They do it very slowly. They do it very protected. Protected. We'll make up a word. And that eventually you get more outward with it. Right? But to normalize the journey of the fear I think is important.
Jonathan - 0:29:42
Yeah, I think you're completely correct. I think the only thing that I, you have to make sure that you're honoring it for yourself and not just doing it in the corner, the pretending you don't do it with other people, right? Like this, like chasm of the two different worlds, two different hats. There's so much, so much power in bringing those worlds together and owning all of yourself. Because I tried to keep it separate for so long and it was exhausting. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was exhausting doing that. So I think it can be yours, I think you can do it, but as long as you're able to be self-expressed with your partner or those close around you, your family, your friends, in a way that is authentic and real to you. You don't have to let a known of all the secrets, all the details, but as long as you're able to express yourself in a complete way. Otherwise it just, I might be experienced. Theses been so exhausting trying to,
Melissa - 0:30:33
Yeah, no, you can't do it. I mean it's not sustainable. But I know that I did work for years. I mean my husband and I, before we got married, we did landmark worldwide together. That was my, okay. Pseudo ultimatum. I was like, I don't care what we do, but we need to be in action around our communication. Yeah. So here's some choices and if you've got a third, throw it in the pot and we'll try that. But when I started to really go down my personal growth journey and my spiritual awakening, I really kept it from him as much as I possibly could. Now it wasn't like you, you can't segment yourself like that. So it wasn't like, it wasn't present in our relationship, but I was really trying to be like
Jessica - 0:31:7
Melissa - 0:31:7
Do over here and when I feel safe enough. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you can come in with me on this journey. So I 100% agree that it's not sustainable, it doesn't work. Long term. Integration of the whole self is the way. And I spent years trying to not trying to deliberately, yeah. Deliberately putting him outside of the safe spaces that I was feeling. Cuz I was like, I don't think that he can hold mm-hmm <affirmative> what I need to be held right now. And the way in which these women's circles are holding it for me. I just don't, I mean he didn't have the capacity. So there is like this integration in, you know, I think we have to feel safe in a way and we always have to make the move before, I mean you said ready, you said ready isn't a feeling, it's a decision. Totally. So there's that time where you just have to be like, I'm gonna say the scary thing. I'm gonna jump in the deep end, I'm gonna bring the partner in, I'm gonna do the thing that terrifies me the absolute most. Mm-hmm <affirmative> in a quest for wholeness.
Jonathan - 0:32:3
Yep. Yeah, absolutely. And they're either gonna meet you or they're not. And that's so scary. That's so scary. <laugh>, right? I mean, yeah.
Jessica - 0:32:12
I do wanna unpack the stigma though a little bit because there Sure there is so much conditioning mm-hmm <affirmative> among men and you also spoke in the medical community, which, which I didn't know about but I see a lot of women doing this work and being really open about this work. So what do you think it is among men that makes it very scary to admit how you experience and wrestle with that and how we can change these narratives for men?
Jonathan - 0:32:42
Totally. Yeah. So the masculinity piece, right? Men are supposed to have things figured out, right? At least I personally bristle at the term toxic masculinity. I just think masculinity has been misrepresented and misused and yeah in a really perverted way for a very long time. That has become more of the dominant culture. Now there are obviously caveats to that. There's obviously nuances to that and there's exceptions to the rule for sure. In general speaking, men are supposed to be emotional. They're not supposed to need to express their emotions. We're supposed to have it all figured out altogether. And if we don't, what's wrong with you? Right? Like stop having the emotions get up, shut up, keep going, power through, you know, you hurt no good get back out there, right? Like are you hurt or are you injured? Right. There's a difference. And those ideas and concepts exist and they just, in my opinion, force men to put on different, what it barriers, call it armor, call it masks, whatever you want to call it, to protect themselves and project a few of themselves that is more acceptable to men out there.
Jonathan - 0:33:53
It's more accepted by also women out there too. Cuz there are some women who don't want men to be a certain way either. Right? I do think it goes both ways, but it's more to be, I think, accepted by their peers as men. And so the idea that you're doing personal growth, right? Or the idea that you have a coach or that you have a therapist, these are still taboo topics. I don't think in 10 years they'll be taboo. I think the shift is happening and it's becoming more mainstream and more accepted, which is amazing and I love that. But right now it's still, you know, why are you doing that? You're going to a men's group. That's a little strange. That's weird. What do you guys do there? Do you guys like sing Kumbaya and hang out and talk about your feelings? It's like not exactly sometimes, but not, you know, maybe just deeply get each other's eyes.
Jonathan - 0:34:38
Yeah, exactly. You know, so there is still this, it's for hip beats, it's for weirdos, it's out there in the fringe again, I think it's changing and shifting and I really credit some of the organizations and the leaders for making it more accessible, making it more attractive, making it cool to do that. I mean I think that's one of the things that Sacred Stone has done an amazing job at is like making it cool to work on yourself. A Mankind Project is another like really big, you know, group out there. And I don't know them nearly as much I will as I do secret tons. I've never done any of their work. But their shtick for a while was like, we're not gonna talk about what we do there. It's separate. And I think Secret Sons came in and they're like, no, like we can make this cool.
Jonathan - 0:35:18
We can make guys showing their emotions and getting real with themselves accessible and make it interesting and not make it be so weird and taboo. And like in this closed black box, I think they'd done an incredible job and they've really opened up a lot of guys to this process. Now it's too weird for some guys. Some guys came to my retreat and they're like, I'm not, I don't wanna go to Sacred Suns, but I'll go to your retreat. So there's different flavors for different people in this work. I think that's what's really cool about it. There should be no competition in this work, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> like how the guys need this. And it's just a matter of who you resonate with to help you move through those feelings of discomfort or uneasiness and overwhelm. Right? So that's my spiel.
Jessica - 0:35:59
Can we talk about what you're experiencing now in your relationship as a father in your work? How has this changed you?
Jonathan - 0:36:9
Oh um, so much <laugh>. I look at Sarah now and I look at the family that we've created. I'm like, this would not have been possible if I didn't step up and do the work. The thing I love most about Sarah, I'd said this to Ron our date the other week. Like the thing I love most about you, cause I always say I love you. Shes why also said why, which is a fun thing. Love
Melissa - 0:36:33
Jonathan - 0:36:34
For her <laugh> and what I told her on Thursday, I said, I love you because you hold me to a standard that I otherwise wouldn't meet. And I really believe that she holds me to the highest standard possible and it is up to me to meet them. And I take the challenge on. I don't shy away from it, but that's why I love her the most.
Jessica - 0:36:59
Mm-hmm. That was really important for me to hear and I would love you to share with our listeners why to say that I love that my wife holds me to this standard. Tell me why.
Jonathan - 0:37:12
Well life is just so much more fucking fun. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, when you're in integrity, when you're in alignment, when I'm not walking around like a grumpy asshole all the time, I actually get to be happy. I actually have fun and joy. Those are them more my default modes now. As opposed to being the grumpy ass <laugh>, which like for such a long time was my, the default mode. I didn't understand that. I didn't know it. I just thought that's the way things were. We can get into why that patterning parents and residency the whole thing. It all plays a part of it. But like holding myself and Sarah holding me to such a high standard, our connection is so much greater. Like our sex is so much better. The fun that we have is so much more meaningful. Everything about life is richer because I am my fullest self and fullest expression in a really real way. And it's not a show. I don't fake it. It's like this is who I am and I'm gonna keep striving and building that highest self.
Melissa - 0:38:13
I will say that's her magic because that's what she does. That's why I was drawn to her. That's how my life has changed because of her is like she holds possibility at such like a profound level that you're like I, I thought that I knew possibility at a pretty profound level <laugh>. Like I really did. And then I like got into her energy in the council and I'm like, oh <laugh>, I had a very teeny tiny possibility threshold and now my possibility world is like,
Jessica - 0:38:39
Melissa - 0:38:40
It's out of the, yeah. I mean it's in a whole nother stratosphere. And I think that is her magic with everybody that encounters her has been my experience.
Jonathan - 0:38:47
I think she sees the highest potential in people. And then we had to work on like the coach, uh, husband relationship like that we had to work on. Cuz that wasn't good to work either. But I think for the women that she coaches, she does a magical job of like bringing you up to it. Not just like the vision, but then bringing you along for it and then holding so that you could then hold yourself there. Yeah. Right. Which is like,
Melissa - 0:39:9
Because it's different than like I have a standard for my husband. I wanna make the discernment of the energy of holding somebody in their highest self and holding this possibility is different than an ultimatum for like, correct. I mean it's, they play in the same field, but it's the energetics underneath it is very different than like, oh I have this, this like standard and you're not, you know, it's like, yeah. It's the standard of joy. The standard of love. The standard of passionate sex, the standard of living life in a very alive, full way. <laugh>.
Jonathan - 0:39:40
Melissa - 0:39:40
Absolutely. It's a very different energy. Absolutely.
Jonathan - 0:39:42
It's totally different. And I'll say that it's the standards that she has for her life and her relationship. And during that kind of really dark time, I now can look back and be like, oh, if I wasn't able to do that, Sarah would find somebody to give her that. Like that's the non-negotiable in her life.
Jessica - 0:40:1
She said that to you. Yeah, she did
Jonathan - 0:40:2
Last touch. She did <laugh>. She did. Yeah, she did. And look, again, it's, this is the standard. This is what I believe in. This is the type of relationship that I have, this type of relationship that I want. And either it's gonna be met by you, I want it to be you or not. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if it's not, I'm gonna find somebody to meet that standard. And then is that an ultimatum? I guess so, but that's not like, you know, my husband acts a certain way or does this or does that. I agree. It's much more of the higher level energy aspect of it. But what's cool about it then it, it evokes you, right? Like it pulls it out of you as opposed like tells you what to do. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and it's gonna look different for every person. I talk about this in the group with men, like every relationship and interaction is gonna look different, but what are you gonna alignment it to? What are you a choice around? Yeah. What are you present to? And and as long as both parties are choosing it in a conscious way, that's where the magic is. That's where the true relationship magic happens.
Jessica - 0:40:59
Even though it takes a lot of courage to do this work, I don't think people realize how exhausting it is to not be themselves.
Jonathan - 0:41:10
Yes. Right. I thought you were somewhere else, but yes, it's so, oh,
Jessica - 0:41:13
Please tell me where you thought I was gonna go. Cause to
Melissa - 0:41:15
Do the work, <laugh>
Jonathan - 0:41:16
To keep doing the work. Right. Because that's the other thing that happened with me. Cuz I, you know, again, athlete, all right, I accomplished a thing. I checked the box like now I'm gonna move on. I'm like, oh fuck, I have to keep doing it.
Jessica - 0:41:27
Gotta keep going.
Jonathan - 0:41:28
I have to keep showing up. And that was another layer of realization that again, I think the benefits continue to be there and they keep showing up in, even in greater ways. The trust is there more, the depth is there more. And so the connection is there more. And so both with Sarah and with the kids and like, there's still challenges. This morning was a fucking shit show at the house. It's still hard. But how do you respond to it? How do you repair from the issues? How do you hold space so that Sarah can go through her process? The kids get, have their emotions and how can we all just have much better interactions moving forward? But yeah, let's keep doing the work. It's still exhausting. Yeah.
Melissa - 0:42:4
<laugh>, it is like being an athlete. Cuz if you want to still be a top performing athlete, it's not like you can stop practicing. Right.
Jonathan - 0:42:11
You have to. So concern,
Melissa - 0:42:11
You know, I dunno why doing this inner work is so different from anything else we've ever done that we became excellent in. You go to practice, you take your rest days, you show up and play. Some days when you don't feel like it, you, you have to keep, it's very similar. If you wanted to be a professional athlete, if you wanna be a professional at yourself, then you gotta show up for yourself every single day. Yeah. Of your whole life.
Jonathan - 0:42:30
Correct. Yeah. That means taking a look at everything. Right? All of it feeds into itself. You know, if you never work out, if you eat like crap, if you don't take care of yourself, well how do you think you're gonna show up in your relationship? It's not gonna be that good. Right. So there's ways that they all kind of work together.
Melissa - 0:42:46
I'd love for you to speak into your vision. So you've, you've come a long way in the last few years and you're running, how is this your fourth time doing men's work?
Jonathan - 0:42:56
Yes. This is the fourth round of doing men's work, which is,
Melissa - 0:43:0
So what feels possible for you now? What is your vision? And if you wanna talk about your medical practice or what do you feel like is possible for men and what is your highest vision that you hold for who you're becoming and the work that you are doing in the world?
Jonathan - 0:43:15
Yeah, that's a beautiful question. I think for me, what I'm trying to accomplish and trying to do is to help get men to see that this work is not taboo, right? This work is accessible. And so I really see my role or niche in getting guys into the door and into working on themselves. So for that, like the course that I run, it's an online course. We do it twice a year now. Like I want to have 300 men in the course. I want to have guys coming in who are committed to changing their life and really seeing the benefit of it. And then having men have like the in-person experience, I think is really important and really needed. So we run a retreat once a year on the property and we wanna keep growing that. And my highest self is trying to, I bring in elements of my men's work to my medical practice, but how do I have my medical practice more reflect the men's work that I do, as opposed to keeping 'em separate? They're still two separate for me right now. That is my biggest edge is how to begin to bring those two together. I have ideas about it, how practical they are, who knows what their ideas and we'll keep sitting in the dream worth it now. But that is my highest vision, is trying to blend more of those two worlds. I don't wanna walk away from medicine, but I don't want to keep practicing medicine as it stands now. I want to try to bridge the two worlds more.
Jessica - 0:44:39
Why? I wanted to mention how exhausting it is to not show up as yourself as a urologist. You've made this connection that men are coming in with physical symptoms. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they're actually manifestations of their emotional, mental struggles. And I don't think we realize how much it's costing us to not do the work that we think it's easier to live in the status quo. It's easier to be comfy where you are, but actually your body's breaking down. Your relationships aren't healthy. Your spirit is disintegrating. Right? Yeah. So,
Jonathan - 0:45:13
Well, a hundred percent. It's so true.
Jessica - 0:45:15
The cost of not doing it, I think is so much higher. And I think we just need to speak into, and you already have a little bit, I mean, you talked about the depth of where your relationship is at now and the joy that you have the capacity to feel how present you are now in your relationship and with your family. But maybe just help give these men who I know are listening right now and struggling to make that first step. Just that little glimpse into what might be possible for them.
Jonathan - 0:45:43
It's gonna be easier than you think. I think so often we build up the work, we build up the first step. It's so impossible to do. I can't possibly do this. I can't possibly fix myself. I can't possibly fix my marriage, can't possibly work on myself. And again, in my experience with few intentional changes in the context of your life, you can see changes. You have to keep going. This is not a, you do the work for a month or two months and then you're done. But the first step that feels so overwhelming and exhausting, the benefits that you start to see immediately are so palpable. It's not as hard as it seeds. It's just getting started. It feels so overwhelming.
Jessica - 0:46:29
Yeah. Mm. I'm so grateful for this talk <laugh>. Truly, I am so grateful that you joined us and that you shared your heart and your vulnerability with us, and you took time out of your busy Dr. Day. I'm very grateful. Well,
Jonathan - 0:46:46
Thank you very much. It's a wonderful conversation. And you women do such great work and yeah, I think we men need to step up more for better, for worse. So
Jessica - 0:46:57
Can I ask one last question before we send you on your way? I know that we broke this into two parts. We asked you who did you think you were supposed to be? Can we end with? Who are you today? Well,
Jonathan - 0:47:9
<laugh>. Oh, I am, my gosh, who am I? I am realizing that I am going to have to continue to keep learning and growing and adapting, which is really hard for me. I really thought I had figured this part out and that I could keep growing in my ways. But what's present right now and full transparency is my son is nine and he's going through a big mental shift and change away from the family and more towards his friends. And we're having to parent him differently. And dad's been really tough. I'm not doing a great job of that. And I came out this morning, so again, this morning was a shit show, <laugh>. Mm-hmm. Um, so I'm struggling with that, you know, to be honest. And I'm, I think who I am now is I'm okay with more of the struggling. I used to see it as like I was failing if I was struggling. And now like, all right, something's not working, something's not right. Let me course correct, let me figure it out. And I have the ability to figure it out. And so I think it's remembering that I have that ability to figure it out. That's true. Whether it's like my medical practice relationship with Sarah as a father, I have the ability to pay her. That's who I am right now in this moment.
Jessica - 0:48:22
I love it. Look at that. We're all human. Isn't that beautiful? <laugh>,
Jonathan - 0:48:28
<laugh> who know, who knew? No, it's uh, you. Thank you
Melissa - 0:48:32
For being here.
Jonathan - 0:48:33
Oh, you're so welcome. It's my honor and my pleasure. I love being able to do this, so thank you very much.
Jessica - 0:48:38
Thank you. So juicy. I
Jonathan - 0:48:40
Know it was a different flow, so thanks for being open to kind of just like going with it, moving with wherever's. Gonna go.
Melissa - 0:48:45
They're all a different slow. Yeah,
Jonathan - 0:48:46
Melissa - 0:48:47
<laugh>. We don't have any fucking rules, Jonathan. We make the rules here. <laugh>,
Jonathan - 0:48:52
Jessica - 0:48:54
I'm gonna get emotional, but it means a great deal to me to just witness and have hope that in whatever new partnership I get to call in, that there's someone willing to meet me in that place. So thank you for being you and for really hearing your wife and honoring her the way that you did and then using this to help others. And I think that's, I don't know, just really profound. So thank you.
Jonathan - 0:49:21
Well, thank you. I really, it was really hard and I really appreciate the reflection on Ed. Thank you. Yeah, it really means a lot. Yeah. But it does.
Jessica - 0:49:31
Me too. Thank you. Okay. I guess you gotta go back to work, doctor <laugh>.
Jonathan - 0:49:35
I know that
Melissa - 0:49:36
I'm, go see patients.