Mastering Emotional Resiliency with Joshua Wenner
New episode with my friend and amazing human, Joshua Wenner. I met Josh through a Front Row Dad’s event where he led a room of 100 men through a transformational experience. He’s a man of powerful energy and presence.
This episode is a master class on emotional resiliency. Joshua shares all kinds of insight around grief, our relationship with life changes, the power of group experiences and safe containers, realizing emotional freedom, and so much more.
Joshua is a world class expert in this field. He’s been through his own journey with grief, emotional resilience and peak performance. He lives and leads by example.
I appreciate Joshua for his commitment to helping people navigate extremely deep work. He’s transforming a lot of lives by sharing his gifts and guiding people through their own emotional journeys.
Hope you enjoy the content!
[00:00:00] Ali: Welcome back folks to The Power of Space. I have an awesome guest today with us, Mr. Joshua Wenner. I'll give a brief intro. I met Josh through a powerful experience, which we'll talk about in a bit. And as I've gotten to know him he is, how would I describe you, Josh? To me, you're a man of presence, I think is a great way to describe what I've absorbed and being in your presence and having some conversations with you. And so I'm grateful for you to create space for this. I'm curious to learn more about your story, as you know, and I'll digress. How would you like to introduce yourself today?
[00:00:41] Josh: Great. You know, I, I would say that I do a lot of different things, but I'd say the connecting between them is I do a lot of work around grief. I do a lot of work around loss. So it's work around grief, loss, nervous system that's split up into a number of different people that I work with.
So it could be everything from working one-on-one with high achieving men that tend to be very successful externally in business and in life, but haven't learned the emotional tool set to come home and communicate with families. So they lack presence, connection, awareness. They have all these tools and they've got all the success, but their life is this much when it could be this much of feeling joy, excitement, passion, presence.
That same thing shows up in men in the men's community I have. It also shows up in first responders and veteran and fire and police. And then I'm doing a lot of work around taking that grief conversations where it all originated for me and building more awareness. I'm gonna be launching a film here sometime this next year that I'm almost done with called The Gift of Grief and, um, beginning more back into grief workshops and grief certification and a lot of things that'll come down the pipe from that cuz I think it's ready.
I was, I've been doing this a decade and a decade ago when I started, people just weren't quite ready for the grief conversation. Mm-hmm. So I created a brand called Emotional Resilience Training and, and basically wanted to make it cool and strong and masculine to overpower the stigma associated with men and emotions in general, and even women with emotions and, and building some more strength and power around it.
And I think, in general, people are ready for that now. Mm-hmm. They're more ready and aware. And trauma, the nervous system is much more broad, so I think people are ready for that. So a lot of different things, but it's all centered around essentially, another way I like to frame it is_ we go through the ascent and descent of life._
Mm-hmm. Most of us are really like the ascent, but we don't have a lot of training around the descent. And that's really the the area that I've spent a lot of time and energy on both peak performance strategies for the ascent. But what do you do when you're in the descent and how do you navigate the descent and how do you do it with power, grace, creativity to come back to the ascent. So dealing with change, transition, heartache, heartbreak, devastating blows. How do you recover from that and get really resilient and recover really quickly.
[00:02:50] Ali: Totally, man. Yeah. So as you described that the ascent and the descent. I love that visual, that metaphor, because it's come up in conversation I've had with friends and family is this awareness that we can't always ascend. Just as nature designs, there has to be this wave like motion that we go through with our emotions, with everything.
And I feel like you've recognized that early. It seems to be a big part of your training around grief, which is something I wanna talk more about. But I love that you have that awareness cuz a lot of people I find, get really stuck in like, well, shouldn't I always be happy? Shouldn't I always experience joy? You know, instead of saying, hey, there is a descent, and then feeling all of that and being with all of that, right.
[00:03:41] Josh: Yeah. To go a little bit deeper, just to broaden it, if you think about it, life has changed. The only thing constant - life is change. Change is vibration. Everything in this life is up and down. It's a movement. Constant move. So change is one moment we're here, the next moment we're here, the next moment we're here. So whether it be the seasons, the weather, our emotional states, everything that we're going through, and so how we learn to deal with change is how we learn to deal with essentially death and rebirth, which is change.
There's always a constant death and rebirth happening. And I'll, I'll go a little one more step further to say, how do we come in this world? We come into this world through the womb being birthed. From the death of one world where all of our needs were met, when we're in the womb, from food to oxygen, to everything's handled, all we're doing is floating around in a sack to being thrust out into this new world.
So there's a death of one world and there's the birth of a new world where we're forced to breathe. We're supposed to do everything on our own and how do we come into this world? We come in grieving. Mm-hmm. So there's a, it's encoded in us a natural skillset set of emotional emotions to navigate that, that we suppress at some point.
So my big thing is how do we bring back tools to get into the body, to get into emotional freedom. Because if you suppress your grief, you suppress your joy. There's a lot of things that kind of are packed around that descent. If we don't like the descent and we only like the ascent, then we, we hide the descent and that also hides how high we can go on the ascent. So it's very loaded, but it also is how we've been conditioned in our culture. It's a really fun subject. It tends to be really messy, but it also is packed with all the joy and happiness and presence and aliveness and all the things we desire. The deepest.
[00:05:15] Ali: Mm-hmm. Yes, yes. I believe that. So, as it relates to that, the descent and the grief, let me give some context
this is a perfect segue into the grief is, I was part of an experience, a larger group experience that you held for Front Row Dads. And by larger I mean a hundred, cuz normally we meet at half that size or less.
And so there's a hundred men in this room led by you. And you took us through some exercises just to get some basic, I'd say awareness, um, feeling our grief, right, or just feeling emotion, but obviously grief was definitely the focus here.
And then where things really started to shift for me is that you created a container, which I've heard you use, which was a beautiful name for what that was where you could literally feel other men's emotions. So some of it might have been anger, sadness, grief, et cetera. But there was this understanding that this is a place where we are bringing more than just our intellect, we're bringing our hearts and without giving away all of the details, because it was truly an experience you had to be there to be a part of and to understand, was that it was powerful. Where I started to feel things and tap into some of my grief just by witnessing what was happening in front of me.
So there's a visual, there's a spiritual element to it. And I'll paraphrase what one guy shared after you sort of brought us, I'd say like, not out of the experience, but as we were, you know, winding down. You could tell that one of the men who was definitely at, at the epicenter of it, just said, I don't know what that was, but it felt like church.
And for me, that was a very high compliment in the work that you brought, again, going back to what I said earlier, the presence that you brought. So that was my perspective, that's the brief version. But I'm curious on what you felt there being sort of the leader of that.
[00:07:22] Josh: I'm really deeply honored to be able to do the work that I do, and I do that in different group settings. That's one of the things I do is I go into group settings and can bring an experience, to get some movement. And, for me it's, it's almost like I'm a grief doula a little bit on knowing how to like cultivate that and bring it up. And you'd be surprised, especially with men, we're typically like, ah, I would never show any emotion, but I've spent the last decade doing this work, especially with like pretty stoic men, veteran first responders, fire, police, gang members, men in prison. Like just, just the types of men that you typically would think what our society's labeled as strong. And it's in working with those men, everybody at some point has this grief and emotion that's already in the body.
And so learning different, really simple, actually strategies to get some movement going. Very quickly, men can all get into it. And in these group settings, it's really potent because it's almost like we're all wanting to go there because it's there. Mm-hmm. What we're actually tapping into is we've all gone through life and fell deeply in love with a dream our bodies, a person, a loved one, a past relationship. Who we thought we were gonna be as a father, or a successful man or whatever that looks like. And then it's taken from us. We all experience grief and loss. Mm-hmm.
And, we either don't know how to grieve or we've been taught it's wrong. Mm-hmm. And so what ends up happening is we suppress it if we think it's wrong and it gets trapped in the body, or we take it out on somebody else. And so what we're doing in this place is creating a really sacred container to say, hey, here's where we grieve together. And then we're doing exercises, some of which I took from Paul Denniston who teaches grief yoga. Uh, when I interviewed him for my film and they were just warming up what they call the center column is this center column of the bodies where we typically store a lot.
And so we're doing all these exercises to loosen some things up to get it moving again, and then we're doing some somatic based practices, which get us into the actual grief, which take a long period of time, but very simple. Which people could do on their own as well. And I've done a lot on my own practices.
And what it does is just whatever's there comes out, and you'll see it goes through waves of anger, goes through waves of sadness, it goes through, it's all mixed in of grief. And what so many people don't realize is a lot of it's unprocessed and a lot of it could have been pre-verbal and there's no memory of it.
So we catch all these things that are just stuck in the body at the moment and it starts to move. And then when one guy starts to emote, then other guys start to emote and it catches on and it becomes this like thing where now there's a safe container and somebody gives somebody else permission to go and then somebody else gives permission to go. And it almost allows us to sink into what we're actually feeling. And then that feeling starts to move through all the men. And again, it could be our stuff. When I've done 'em in groups with women, they tend to feel more generational trauma where we tend to feel a little bit more of our own trauma or our brother's trauma, but it can also go into generational trauma.
And then you just feel that moving through all the men and, and it's, it's really interesting cuz initially we're taught it's bad to feel all these different things around emotion. But when I ask the men what's harder? Is it easier or harder to get into our emotion and actually feel and show our emotion and be witnessed in it? Is it easier to do that or is it easier to tuck it away and put on a game face? Mm-hmm. And go about our day? It's actually harder to get into that emotion and emote it and to feel it and to be witnessed. So what do strong men do? Do strong men do what's easier or what's harder? Right.
So the, the premise is, the stronger the man, then he's able to be more courageous, to go into his emotions, to do the hard work, to be seen and witnessed. If it's in a safe container. And I think this, to your point earlier, is what was missed. If you're just emoting all over the place and you have a job to get done, or you have something to get, it doesn't make sense. But if you went through a, a deep emotional trauma or something as heavy on your heart, if you can offload it, it comes out and it gets you back into your heart, into the present moment.
So the body's just trying to do it. We're suppressing it. And so what happens is if you suppress it, it builds like a pressure cooker and then eventually the pressure cooker erupts. But usually on the people we love the most, like our family, our loved ones, we beat ourselves up. Right? And they're just punishment cuz we're in pain. So, for me, witnessing a beautiful space of men that are willing to go with me on this journey to, you know, and that's how I start it. Here's, here's grief. We don't really get a lot of information. And then I frame what's strong, so where are you gonna go in that point? Strong men grieve, the other ones don't.
And then you got a hundred other men around you. Or again, even in men and women's circles, it's the same thing. It's like once people start the exercises and somebody goes, it gives other people permission to start going. And then at the end we do do a process where we take an individual and do a little bit deeper dive process that relates to everybody.
And so typically I find people are either go through the exercises, they may go and have just something move or they may go when they watch somebody else go through a more deeper personal journey. And we know what's, we get a little bit of story then well, who's heavy on your heart. And in that, typically it affects the whole room and it can move mountains.
And so what we're doing is we're accessing what we already innately have. We've just forgot, lost, suppressed, been told it's wrong to get there. If you look at kids, they're these free form beans. When they get hurt, they cry. When they get upset, they throw a temper tantrum, and it runs for a minute and then they come back to normal.
And so what we're doing is we're learning how to become emotionally free. And what we did there was just, we spent what, 90 minutes walking through a process for us all to get a little bit more connected to that process. And then, what it does is it brings us all into our hearts, and then the church is like if we've been suppressing our pain and grief, we've also been suppressing our joy and our happiness and our aliveness.
So when we can feel that grief and sadness for a moment, it connects us back into our heart, cuz it's our love. And then we're able to feel that joy and we can feel again. Especially as men when we're so head-based, mm-hmm, we don't know how to access this. So when we're able to feel and get into here a little bit, it's like, oh, I could feel it now.
I could feel my heart. I could feel my love. I could feel my family. So that's, I think what you're describing is, we did it together. It's like, oh, I couldn't do it, but I saw this man start to cry. Or I saw this man start to get angry. Oh, and then I could access my anger and then under my anger, anger was the bodyguard to fear and sadness.
So if I could feel the anger, then I could feel the sadness beneath it. And I've realized it's actually not weak, it's sacred, if done in a sacred container. And I wanna phrase that because again, I work with a lot of fire, police, military, when you're on mission, it's not appropriate to grieve in the moment. If I got a patient on the operating table and they're about to die and I'm seeing severe trauma, I can't just start emoting all over the place. I gotta finish my job.
So the training was properly put into place to disassociate from emotion, follow protocol to handle the mission, right? Whether I'm at war and my brothers to my left and right are getting shot, or my men and women on my left right are getting shot, I gotta finish the battle. Or I die. Or they die.
So the training was in place for fire, police, hospital, even school counselors, right? So many of us have been taught, I gotta focus on the mission, but what was missing was we never learned how to get back into our emotions. And so that's the missing element. In safe containers, how do we get back into our emotions to feel and heal and integrate all the parts of our ourselves that we may have lost along the way.
So that was really the experience. It's just the taste of what it feels like as a group of a hundred men to get into our emotions. And I'd say 85, 90% of the room got into some emotional place, which is pretty cool to watch that happen, you know, and experience it.
[00:14:37] Ali: Oh, dude, it was extraordinary. I'm still grateful for what you did there and a lot of things you just said, not only do they land in my life, but I have to give you credit that when I think I first heard you say this on the Front Dad Podcast where you mentioned that "anger is the bodyguard to fear and sadness."
Dude, that just struck me because I've been doing a lot of discovery around emotions and I thought I had a really good understanding of those big three, anger, fear and sadness, even joy, and really tapping into the awareness, teaching my children, even though they're already great at demonstrating it to your point.
But when you said that it was like a light bulb for me, I was like, oh shit, he's right. More than half these times, I'd say that I'm learning that it's almost the majority that when I feel anger and it presents itself, there's usually fear or sadness that's really underneath that. So I have to ask, where did you learn that?
[00:15:31] Josh: Great question. I was a speaker and trainer with Tony Robbins for a number of years, and I did a lot of Peak Performance. I would travel the country. There was only five of us. I was on an elite team that were speaking three times a day and really modeling the Peak Performance strategies around mindset and that's all very useful. And I went through a, a deep loss of my brother, coming to see me before Thanksgiving, you know, for Christmas one year, and said, hey man, I've been shooting needles, I've gotten into heroin, I've gotten into drugs. I gotta come live with you or I'm gonna die.
Mm-hmm. And I told him no. And then three days later he died of a heroin overdose. And so, you know, the cliff notes of that is I had, I had a lot of death in my life, but that was a death that I couldn't make peace with. And so I went on this journey to try to heal myself. And along the way was everything from plant medicine ceremonies to working with shamans and nature to doing a lot of forgiveness work. And then I've been working on a film, so the last almost decade I've been interviewing grief and trauma. So I started to interview it myself, realizing I didn't know what I thought I knew. In Peak Performance is one piece of it, but grief and trauma is really its own window.
And I realized I'd only had one set of tools. I only had a hammer. So I realized I had a hammer. And the hammer was like, if you got a nail and you hit the nail with the hammer, it works great. You can bend it, hit it sideways, but if you take a hammer to a screw, you break the screw. And that was a metaphor for my life.
I had a hammer. If the hammer didn't work, then I must have been a failure. And I didn't know how to cope with that. And so when I went down this journey, a number of individuals I think who really brought it to my awareness was David Kessler who has G_rief.com_ and he was the one that initially said anger is the bodyguard to fear and sadness. And then I've seen it spread out all over. But when you can get into anger, for men that can't feel, and you can't feel any sadness or you feel numb, a lot of times anger is something that you can get into.
And so if you can get into anger, in a really controlled place. So how do you get into anger on your bed or on a punching bag or somewhere that really safe outlet. Let me get the anger out. Then underneath, if I can actually feel what's there, that's what you'll start to recognize. Like, oh, I was actually deeply sad or deeply hurt, or I'm scared of the future, or I can't control something. So I got all the fear that I'm getting angry cuz I just didn't know how to cope with this. And it was a coping mechanism that was safe for me as a child. So that's kind of unpacking where it came from.
And also if you track it, a lot of men also struggle with anger. You'd be surprised how many are like, oh, I never get angry. And that's a telltale sign that a guy's got a lot of stuff that he's suppressed in his nervous system and can't access it. Cuz the natural child, you'll see 'em go through all the emotions.
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Some moments they're angry, some moments they're happy, some moments they're frustrated. Some moments they cry, like, that's how we're made, but we learn this is okay, this is not okay. And it's either of, we didn't get our needs as childhood and nobody was there, or, we needed to be the one to fix everything and solve everything. So we learned we weren't important and we needed to be the - let me anticipate everybody else's emotion to regulate the household or nobody was in the household. So we learn all these different ways to emotionally be, and that's where the armor comes on later in life.
[00:18:37] Ali: Yep. Thank you for sharing your story about your brother. It demonstrates kind of the work that you do and, and I appreciate you. I appreciate you for a variety of reasons, but being able to share that is a vulnerable thing for me.
So yeah, it's interesting bringing this back to the kids for a moment. Mm-hmm. My son is seven. And my daughter's five and I see a very distinct difference in that he is acquiring armor. In fact, I used some of what I learned at that experience and then some of the other tools that were presented at at that event. Immediately when I got home to create a, a container for my son. And sure enough, we got through the anger and realized there was sadness.
Whereas my daughter who just turned five, she doesn't have the armor yet, which is beautiful dude, cuz she just moves emotion through her body. And then I see her feel it. Sometimes we talk about it and process it. Other times she just needs to feel it. And I'm not doing the whole, oh, you're fine, be strong. It's just like, what are you feeling? Do you need me? You know? And then she's done and she moves on. It's very clear.
And so I'm watching this stuff happen, man, because as I tap into trying to get my armor off, I do totally agree with what you're saying that the armor gets on. I don't even think most people know it. Hence the suppression. It's just a subconscious pattern. We've been conditioned for, like you said, and next thing you know, you grow up, quote unquote, and there's all this armor.
And then my experience, not just in, in being your presence, but also in doing other similar types of work, somatic breath work, et cetera, is that life starts to feel a lot better with less armor. It doesn't mean it's not scary, but it, it just feels alive. In fact, I cried more in the last year, Josh, than I have in probably 20 years leading up to this. And I told my wife that like, I'm not necessarily looking to cry. I just have very little resistance now. And after I cry, I feel like my body has like done the inverse of a bath. It's gotten things and it's almost like I feel more alive. Mm-hmm. Does that make any sense to you?
[00:20:47] Josh: Well, it does. And I'll, and I'll just give a frame on this is one of the things we learned, and I got this from Michael Gay, a close friend of mine. He talks about these emotional tourniquets. Mm-hmm. And if you think of a tourniquet, typically tourniquets are put on during battle. Mm-hmm. To save a limb. So let's say I'm at battle, my left arm is shot. I would now put on a tourniquet, and the tourniquet would go between where the wound is and the rest of my body.
And it's a really tight thing that essentially cuts off the blood. So that it doesn't drain out the blood from the rest of my body and I die. So what it does is it cuts that off. I may lose the arm, but I don't lose the body. Mm-hmm. And actually that's how most military units are deployed now with the bunch of tourniquets. It's one of the advancements we've done as you leave with six or eight or ten tourniquets, cuz that's how they've been able to save more lives with the recent wars we've had whereas in the past, they wouldn't.
So the reason that's so important is what we learn to do as kids, is when we go through an emotional pain, instead of feeling that emotion, if we learn that it's not safe, we put a tourniquet on. Mm-hmm. Basically suppress that emotion, said, I can't feel this right now. And when we do that emotionally we lose that life force in the body that gets suppressed with the pain that we push down.
Mm-hmm. So let's say I get a massive trauma and suppress that emotion another trauma, a dream that I had doesn't manifest, I lose my money, I go through a bankruptcy, I get cheated on or betrayed, right? There's all these losses that happen in life and one of the most undiscovered ones that I've identified is dreams. Mm-hmm. Like we fall in love with dreams and some of these dreams we visualize since we're little kids of like, I'm gonna have a couple kiddos, and then they can't have kids. They visualize they're gonna find the perfect partner and they get married and then they get divorced.
They visualize that they're gonna grow up in a really loving family and then their experience betrayal from a family member. So, there's all these things that happen. Those are the deep emotional wounds. And when those things happen and we put a tourniquet on, we lose our life force and our energy.
So when we're able to remove the tourniquet let ourselves bleed out for a minute to clean the wound to get back on track. That's when we get access to that life force again. And that life force gives us more energy, more vitality, and we also access more of the body. I describe it as a metaphor. When men and women first start learning emotional resilience training, but emotional resilience is just how quickly can you bounce back emotionally. Mm-hmm. And I find most people are in reactionary mode because they've suppressed all their emotions. When you can identify what it is, allow it to move through you, you get access to more of your body and then you're actually have a lot more life.
And then you become a little bit more like you're describing like, oh, I'm sad. Let me feel the sadness. And then the sadness comes out and then you're present again and you're back to life. Or, oh, there's anger. You feel the anger and get it out. Then you come back to normal and you get these parts of your life back and you actually have your body now that's giving you information versus just your head, right?
This little compact thing where we're kind of, numb from the, the neck down. You actually start to get very aware from the whole body. And so there's different challenges that come with that. You get a little bit more sensitive. Mm-hmm. Not sensitive, like as a sensitive man, just like, oh, I can feel what's going on with other men. Yes. With my spouse, with my kids, with my...you develop new awareness that have been shut down with the armor, cuz you're learning how to remove the armor.
Back to the earlier part of the conversation, is that process emotionally healthy, moving that energy in safe contained areas gives you tools to feel more, which allows you to be more present, which allows you to experience life more fully.
So I think that's what you're describing. Instead of it being negative, you now see it as a positive. Mm-hmm. And so you're able to use the tools to come back online and be more expressive in life, which allows you to feel your children faster, feel your spouse faster, you're more connected, you're not absent from all that.
[00:24:27] Ali: 100%. And the other thing that's kind of been a byproduct and I'm saying this cuz I'm curious if this is true for you as well. Is that in living more in tune with my emotions, I feel like I see it in others quickly as well. Like I see anger rising. I'm not saying that I jump in and try to heal like, hey, you're angry. Something's gotta change. But I see it. So then there's a part of me that wants to be empathetic when people want support and step through this stuff. But is that true for you? You've done this work and you're really in it, is it really quick for you to, to observe it in others?
[00:25:06] Josh: Yeah, and I, I think it depends on the environment, right? It's like, it depends on what the context is in the environment that I'm in and what the landscape is. So yes, I can feel emotion extremely quick. It just depends on what the environment is for me to do my healing. And this is, I think, the difference between grief work and more nervous system work.
Mm-hmm. So, grief work is more being able to identify what emotions are trapped when it's there and allow yourself to feel it and express it cuz grief is the expression of heartbreak and it gets us back in our heart again. Nervous system is a whole different set of awareness, which is realizing when am I in fight or flight.
Yeah. And a lot of times they're tied together because we've learned when I'm in pain, suppress the response to feel or express and go into like fight, flight, freeze or appease. And so a lot of times what we do is, that's what you could catch really quick. People are very reactive in the fight, flight, freeze or appease.
Yes. Which is covering up some wounding, which needs to be expressed. And that's how they tie together because they haven't. Or if you get really good at it, those are still there, but you learn to come back really quickly. Mm-hmm. Cuz you recognize, ah, this is a core wound. Boom, somebody triggered me. I, I move into it. I'm able to pause, regulate myself, identify what's happening and what the trigger or the response is, and actually feel that and get myself back into a regulated place very quickly, the longer you do it. So I think that's what happens more with time, is you'll see people through their nervous system versus through what is actually happening.
Sure. So, Somebody has a response that comes offline, you're more going, they're very angry. Yeah. Why are they having this big of a response to something? There must be some trigger from their past wound that is coming up and they are in a fight mode. Right. So they're angry and they're fighting to protect that story, it's the protector of the story. Yeah. So to that, to that full circle it's the emotions and the nervous system tied together.
[00:26:51] Ali: Totally man. Yeah. Wow. What's interesting to me is that not only do you have this amazing story and background, which you've started to share, but I feel like you have a really sound mastery of the science as well. So being able to hold space for both of those is a powerful skillset. Which segues right into, give us a little bit more context around _K4 Men_. So you've mentioned the type of men you work with. Is this where the majority of your work is being done right now?
[00:27:23] Josh: Think of it as I have K4 as more the group program, group work development, where we have a Rite of Passage process, which is 12 weeks that guys go through Rite of Passage. I'd say the focus of K4 is from adolescents to adulthood, and there's been no initiated process for men. And so where do we learn how to become men?
Yeah. Who are we modeling? Are we modeling our fathers? Where did they learn how to become a man? A lot of men are missing healthy masculine presence. So K4 is with my business partner, Philip Folsom, and it's our combined approach of creating healthy masculinity in the world and doing it through a Rite of Passage as well as a community that focuses on how do I set goals and achieve goals?
How do I become emotionally free? And I bring all that, let's call it technology to it of nervous system awareness, nervous system regulation, deep work to move that energy in the body and learn how to take control. We just call it a master tool where if I'm thrown off course, if I don't know how to use this tool, then I'm letting the environment affect me and I'm essentially acting like an a child.
That's what children do. As an adult, I should be able to use the awareness to recognize when I'm in an activated state, gain control of myself, which is regulating myself so I can actually choose how to respond versus letting that happen. So we bring that to it, but we also teach maps which teach us how to interact with other people. We call it _K4_ cuz it's King of the Four Houses, which represent KING, WARRIOR, LOVER, MAGICIAN, which is based on Gillette and Moore's work.
It's mythopoetic work. So it's just a fun way of having community and training ourself on healing that. But that's just, kind of component to everything that I do around it. But it's so fulfilling cuz we need each other as men and it's very healing. I started initially doing my own retreats and I was doing solo retreats for five, six years, seven years.
Mm-hmm. And I would just do those four or five times a year where we'd have eight to 12 guys going to the mountains. And it was all centered around at the time I called it emotional resilience training, but doing deep emotional therapeutic work. And I'd have men from all backgrounds, also first responders, veterans and I did that for a long time. That's where I got really good at this, the work and moving the work. But then I wanted to build it into a larger platform cuz it wasn't sustainable. And so that's where _K4_ came from is how do I build a larger movement community around this? And not just around grief, but around all these different subjects.
Cause grief is more tied that to LOVER. LOVER is where how do we feel, how do we enjoy the moment, how do we get present, connected in life? And a lot of WARRIORS which isn't just first responder veterans, it's also entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs work really hard. They're under a lot of stress. Mm-hmm. You constantly fail or get knocked down or have challenges or plateaus, and we learn to put armor on to go do business.
And so a lot of times we're strong in our WARRIOR house, but we lack in our LOVER house. LOVER's where our relationships, our family, our connection, the self, our presence, our ability to feel grief and joy and sadness. Like so many more men, even if they're not emotionally open can can tell you a lot more about their problems than celebrate success.
Yeah. Like a lot of men struggle with celebrating success cuz we get used to like suppressing the joy. So we suppress the success. So that's one element. But men's work just super important to have community men around us at all times.
[00:30:31] Ali: I agree. And you nailed it man. That was my story. So as you go into more of the entrepreneur demographic that the last few years a huge effort has been getting back into my heart because I was just wired and so many things were suppressed. And I actually just read recently, Josh, someone described it where, I was subconsciously addicted to the chaos. I was just like, cool, what else can I distract myself with? What else can I get into to not feel anything?
Whereas now, it's so interesting, man, it's become this shift where I'm really enjoying, or at least I'm so fascinated by the other side, and tapping into the more feminine energy. I've been doing my work now to come back to the masculine side and be like, oh, I need to step up now. I need to drive again. So yeah, this stuff is so interesting to me, and I have all these different questions.
One of the things I wanna ask you though, that is kind of shifting gears a bit, is that in this world of work and the beautiful skillset that you teach and train, do you map any of this to personal transformation? Does that word mean anything in your work?
Cuz some of the stuff that I try to evoke with _SPACE_ is how can we realize personal transformation, if that's a journey we want to take, if we want to seek that. And below that I see the world's of personal development, personal growth, et cetera. And you can combine these terms. They're just labels, but the word transformation has been strong for me because I think it goes beyond just, oh, I'm growing in this area, but it's, I'm actually evolving. Mm-hmm.
And so I'm curious as you've been a guide and a mentor for people over all these years, like, have you seen that? Do you see them evolve and transform or is it just giving them more tools?
[00:32:19] Josh: That's what got me into the work is when I did my first retreat. I've been in personal development for such a long time. Mm-hmm. My dad had me listen to Tony Robbins when we were hunting when I was like six years old. Oh, wow. Yeah. Okay. Boondock. So I've been around it and did my first, like, workshop around 16, and so I've just been in it a long time.
So transformation, I'm very idealistic about something has to move. Mm-hmm. Um, I've actually had to do work on the opposite of, of not taking personal responsibility and being tied to somebody's transformation, but accepting them where they're at. But I'm typically very idealistic. Like, if you don't move the needle and there's no movement, then this isn't working.
And so, definitely on par with that conversation. And my very first retreat I was guided, and uh, I was in a really hard part of my life where things weren't working and I was doing startup companies. I was an entrepreneur as well. So I relate to entrepreneur that kept doing entrepreneur ventures and they kept failing. And it was one of those hard things where, man, I worked eight years on a project. We have a 20 million dollar exit and it's an equity deal. There's no cash traded.
So here I am again, like sure, another eight years I could have retired. Now I'm starting over again. Right? So there's a lot of that energy, for whatever reason it was in my space, like how do I work for such long periods of time and sacrifice so much not to have the success that some entrepreneurs get immediately, where I've had multiple non successes. And so my life has kind of been filled with loss ironically, not just from the death space, but my brother's space and the business space.
And so I was in this really dark space one time after this and I was like, what am I here for? And I started pleading with God. And I got a couple key questions. One of 'em was like, what are my natural gifts? Like, what was I given? What did I not develop? And one of 'em is I'm naturally optimistic. Like I was given that since I was a kid. Um, second question was, what am I actually gonna remember at the end of my life? If you're sitting there at the end of your life in the rocking chair, what do you remember? And I was writing down all the memories.
I didn't have one memory of the 16 hour, 20 hour work days where I burned the end. No memories around that, but 80% of my time was doing that at the time. And the memories that did stand out, I was like, oh, they're service elements. They're doing something for somebody else. They're moments filled with love and surprise and fun and joy and then some deep, painful moments.
But I was like, what do I remember? And so I was like, how do I create a lot more of these? If this is all I remember, why am I spending 80% of my time doing things I'm never gonna remember that isn't actually working or I haven't achieved success for, and 20% is this. And then the last question I asked was, what would I do if I had no fear?
Mm-hmm. And it's a really deep question. People ask it, but do they really go there? And when I was sitting with that, it was like, well, if you didn't have fear, you wouldn't care about money. You wouldn't even care how heavy the subject was. And what I got was really clear. You'd take the natural optimism you have and you'd put it in the darkest place you could find.
Hmm. And so it was like, oh, I would take glass is half full and I'd put it around death, grief, and loss. And it was a really hard thing for me to take cuz I got it really clear like this is your purpose. And it wasn't the first time, it had hit me a number of times and I kept rejecting it cuz I would be like, years ago I created a brand, bring Death to Life.
And I went to like a Brendan Rashard event and I was at the event and everybody's like, what are you doing? I was like, I'm gonna bring death to life. And people are so scared of it, but I talk about an entrepreneur and everybody gets excited. So I had a really hard time accepting my purpose or my work around helping bring light to really heavy areas that people run from.
Like I even talk about it and they wanna run from it. And so yeah, here's gonna be my work. So that's where I started a whatever a decade ago when I said, okay, I'm gonna start in this work and just keep going to this work. And so, the port I wanna get to on transformation is, the irony is nobody's with people in their deepest, darkest, most painful moments, right?
It's, it's the scariest parts of life. The reason is cuz we're not okay with our own grief. We're not okay with our own death. We're not okay with our own pain and we've hidden or run from it. So when somebody's in a painful place, we wanna run from it cuz it triggers our shit.
And here's what I found. When you can love and be with yourself through it, you can be there with other people. So they feel like a kindred soul. They feel like somebody finally gets me and nobody understands me. And you're not doing anything, you're just like, ah, I can be with you and this doesn't scare me because I can be with me.
And so, that in itself just being able to do that is probably one of the most transformational gifts that you could ever give somebody.
Because we live in a culture where everybody's trying to fix your pain, fix your grief, and when it's what I call a stage four, I have four levels of emotional trauma. A stage four is like an amputation. There is no fix. Hmm. So, a common myth about grief is, people are trying to fix it and anything they say that's presumptive to fix it is gonna get lashed out What am I gonna do, fix my brother? Anything you could say to justify it just creates anger.
Sure. When all you can do is say, I'm with you. You look incredibly sad and painful and I'm with you through this. Mm-hmm. It's all you can do. So one, that's been tremendously valuable. And then two, a lot of the work I have has actually, because it's gone into first responders, veterans, family units, it's actually saving a lot of lives.
So I can't tell you the countless number of people that have come up to me and said, you've saved my life. And I don't take that to me personally, I actually gave it to them and say, you've done the work to do it. So, that's been one of the most valuable tools when people can put their lives back together again when there feels like there's no way out and they're gonna end it and then they learn how to put their life back together again.
It's tremendously rewarding and it boils back down to the kids. That's the really cool part is when we learn to be there with our pain, we learn to go into our kiddos and teach them what we didn't know for us. What our parents didn't know for us is why we have, if you track it whatever we'd struggle with, our parents struggled with. Yes. And we just modeled their same struggles. So when we can actually learn how to see the struggle, not try to run from it or avoid it or hide it, but embrace it and communicate it to the family and then show, them model to them how to move through it. Like you've now just healed your lineage trauma.
And so to train other men and women to do that and to watch it happen is magic. Cuz to me that's true transformation. That is actually changing lineage and it's transforming one thing to the next. So yeah, super, super fulfilling.
[00:38:18] Ali: Dude. Yes. That's powerful. You, you got it. Like the lineage transformation. Yeah. It's interesting you bring that up, Josh, because in many ways I share very openly that I believe with conviction that I'm learning way more from my children than they are from me most days. And to one of your last points, I'm now inspired to take some of those learnings and some of these tools that we're discussing and bring them to my parents, which is a whole different challenge.
Hmm. Cause then there's this whole like navigating like, okay, well what have you suppressed at this point for almost 70 years? How can I be with you to your other point? Because sometimes it's just being with them. It's just the presence of just holding that space and then getting them to have potentially these aha moments later in life, which can be beautiful.
As I'm processing everything you just shared, like some of my most beautiful moments have nothing to do with business or achievements. It's just like, oh, there was that moment where I saw someone. And when I mean see them, like I saw the kid smile, I saw the kid cry, like where you really see 'em.
One of the other things that was coming to me as you were sharing that is like, I feel like sometimes this transformation that clearly you've been a part of and in observing or facilitating, sometimes it doesn't even require words, it's just mm-hmm, being with it. Yep. Would you agree with that?
[00:39:45] Josh: Yep. A hundred percent. So think of the frame as there is no fix. Our grief needs to be witnessed not fixed. Yes, yes. That is like the big message and if somebody's in pain, they just need to be witnessed. So you're literally just being present with them. And you can't do it with them if you can't do it with yourself.
So if you're anxious, avoidant, uncomfortable, whatever comes up for you, especially if it's around like your own family, that's something for you to take a look at is what, what have you not dealt with and what is getting triggered in you and for level fours, there is no fix. So if you're trying to fix it, you're only gonna be met with failure because when I first learned this is we were doing, and I meant to say, when I did my first retreat, I got instructed, call it from source that I couldn't model. Typically, I would go research all the best information and build my course on the best stuff out there.
Mm-hmm. And I kind of got in my meditation like, no, you're gonna build it from your own personal experience. So I worked with a coach to map out my curriculum all for my own. I didn't take anything. And literally the metaphors I came up with, everything was my own. And I was really lacking, like, who am I to create this?
And now I recognize it came through me. But, the main peak of it was what you saw modeled at the circle. What I did one-on-one with somebody, and I did that very first time, which I didn't really know what I was doing, but it worked and I'd never seen such powerful of a transformational shift in a workshop in my own.
I've been to a lot of workshops, but I hadn't seen that. It was a deep mix of forgiveness work combined with emotional offloading, and it felt more lineage based, shedding almost like a spiritual Rite of Passage type experiential that the man literally looked very different when he came through it than he did before.
And that's when I was like, wow, there's something magic in this. Like, okay, this is my, this is my work. And so, I think being able to be there with other people is the most loving thing we can possibly do. And you, you don't need to do anything. When somebody dies and they're going through grief or their, their animal dies, or a loved one or a dream, like the best thing is just show up.
Yeah. And if you can't do that, send some meals. Right. And just do things. Instead of saying, what, what do you need? I'm here. That's what most people do. Let me know if you need anything. You're not gonna ask for anything cuz you're in the middle of hell at the moment. So what you can do is say, hey, I'm sending food.
That's what my go-to is I send food. Somebody loses a loved one or going through a huge divorce. I know they're gonna be broken for a couple days and they're gonna be heartbroken. And so let me send 'em some food to make it a little bit easier. Let me just show up. Right. So I think that's the big shifts we're making.
And I think I also wanna give one more distinction. Most of personal development, you'll hear the phrase, you're not broken. And so I think that's why we have a resistance to the descent because we're trying to have the ascent and if there's something not working, we are afraid that we're broken. So we try to feel good again.
And the general premise around grief work is when we fall deeply in love with something and it's taken from us, we're heartbroken. Yeah. Our heart is shattered into a million pieces. So there is a feeling of feeling broken. Yes. And it's learning to love the heartbreak, unfortunately, is the only way we go through it.
Because you can't get around it. You have to go through it. And the way you go through it is, I'm gonna love through the heartbreak. I'm gonna love and let that sculpt my soul and craft my character and become who I'm supposed to be. And, and then when you do, you're able to love larger from it. Right? And then you could be there with other people in they're the greatest moments cuz you're like, I could be there with me, I could be there with you.
Right. And it's the greatest gift I think, cuz usually people can't be there. They run, like if there's a funeral, a close death, most people are like, uh, they're, they're scared. We're scared as, as humans, you know? Or another way to look at it is, somebody's in a wheelchair or somebody's on crutches who's more opt to get people talking to them.
Hey, what's going on? Tell me about it. What happened? Somebody's in a, with a cast or somebody's in a wheelchair, missing a limb. Mm-hmm. You'd be surprised. Most people don't talk to what I call level four traumas, where they're amputations or there's something more extreme. They go to the person that's on a cast cuz they, they feel better about it. Right. Because they can't go with their own level four trauma that they can't be okay with so deeply, deeply, big, big piece.
[00:43:44] Ali: Yeah. Wow. Yeah. I think my final sort of feedback on that is that just to your point, being able to show up and sit in it with someone, not literally sit, but like to be in it with them. Mm-hmm. Is such, in my opinion, an admirable quality. Because I even have had situations recently Josh, where like if I'm expressing some sadness or some grief, people wanna hug me and I'm like, wait, wait, wait, wait. No, no, no. Like I have to be with this.
[00:44:21] Josh: They're trying to fix it, trying to take it away.
[00:44:22] Ali: That's it. Back to your point, they're trying to fix it because they're uncomfortable. And I've even caught myself doing that before. It's actually, it's been challenging with a young daughter. But that's the whole point, is that just being with her in her presence, like, I'm here if you need me, but I'm not gonna fix that cuz you need to feel it.
Mm-hmm. Yeah, dude, that is powerful. Wow. I wanna honor the clock, I have one more question and then we'll wrap, josh. You can take this anywhere you want. Where are you creating _SPACE_ right now? What's in focus for you if we haven't discussed it?
[00:44:57] Josh: Yep, there's two. I have an immediate and then I have a long term. My immediate is, um, back to, I just opened up some spots for one-on-one coaching. I'm finding that more and more fulfilling or speaking to groups, doing what we did to that group and going in and bringing it to other groups. I've kept it more close, nearby. And now I'm like, you know what, this could add valuable insight to their group or their experience to create more synergy, alignment, connection, and openness in general. And so those two things are really interesting.
And then I'm also working on finishing my film. And so that's called _The Gift of Grief_. And when that gets launched, I really wanna build a whole piece on it from grief workshops. I may travel around the country and do a similar thing that we did, but we're two hour workshops where I played the film and walk through experientials all the way to like, grief certification where I can get people certified on how to do similar work.
So that stuff's coming down the pipe next. But, yeah, a lot of fun things around the same similar vein, just different pieces around it.
[00:45:48] Ali: Mmm. I'm excited for that. Are you able to give a release date for the film or not yet?
[00:45:55] Josh: Not yet. Yeah. We're still working on it. We're in post, we're about 90% done with post, but then I'll figure out the strategy to release it. It'll be an online launch, but sometime this next year.
[00:46:03] Ali: Oh man. I'm excited for that. I'm excited for that. I'm excited for anything if I get another experience to be with you. I'm deeply grateful for what you did in December, just how you show up, Josh. So thank you. And of course, thank you for creating space here. We will definitely link to all of your awesomeness in in the show notes. But anything else left unsaid before we wrap up?
[00:46:25] Josh: That's it. Thanks so much, brother. It's been an honor and a pleasure to be here with you as always.
Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.