This is a great episode for a couple of reasons. First of all, Bryan is a Life & Relationship Coach, which is an off-the-beaten path career path we haven’t covered before. But it’s also a career path that has given him a lot of insight into challenges that people face, both men and women. He talks about thriving, not surviving in ones life, and his decade long journey of career experimentation. He talks about what helped him on this journey, which is learning to figure out what his body was saying “yes” to and what it was clearly saying “no” to. It’s great advice, regardless of what career path you pursue.
Bryan Reeves is a Life & Relationship Coach. He coaches men, women and couples to experience extraordinary intimate relationships and lives in which they thrive every day. He started out at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, after which he served in the Air Force for 5 years, with his final post as a Captain as the 1st Space Launch Squadron Spacecraft Flight Commander in Cape Canaveral Air Station. He has had a diverse career prior to his current role - which we’ll get into in the interview. He also hosts the podcast, “Men, This way - Life Insights from Wise Men”
StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
Bryan’s Podcast: https://bryanreeves.com/menthiswaypodcast/
The Podcast I reference with John Wineland: https://bryanreeves.com/how-death-opens-the-masculine-heart-with-john-wineland-003/
My podcast about my experience with Men’s Groups: https://beyondtheuniform.org/blog/btu-262-mens-groups
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Los Angeles is Bryan Reeves. Bryan is a Life & Relationship Coach. He coaches men, women and couples to experience extraordinary intimate relationships and lives in which they thrive every day.
He started out at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, after which he served in the Air Force for five years, with his final post as a Captain as the 1st Space Launch Squadron Spacecraft Flight Commander in Cape Canaveral Air Station. He has had a diverse career prior to his current role - which we’ll get into in the interview. He also hosts the podcast, “Men, This way - Life Insights from Wise Men”.
How would you explain what you do for a living?
I would say that I am a life and relationship coach. I work with men, women, and couples to help them form deep connections with themselves and with others.
How would you respond to people that might not buy into the benefit of this work?
I was 26 when I got out of the Air Force. I never saw combat but I was fucked up. I couldn’t feel my emotions, I was so disconnected from my emotions. Trying to build intimate relationships was difficult.
Particularly with men, we have to hit a bottom of some sort before we are willing to do this kind of work on ourselves. There was a Colonel that I worked with that was a year away from separating. He had had a dream before we worked together. In the dream, he was talking to a woman. When he woke up, he told me that he felt he had been talking to his heart. He was ready to become more connected to himself.
When I got out of 26, I could have parlayed my military career into a similar civilian career. But my heart was telling me that was the wrong decision. I think a lot of people in the military are faced with a decision. They have to evaluate whether what they are doing in the military is a true passion for them.
I really like that because I think a lot of military members transitioning out think about their transition in a very logical way. That’s great but they don’t always think about what will truly drive and motivate them.
That’s right. The mind and logic certainly has its place and you don’t want to throw that out. But so is our body. If there’s a clicking noise in your car and you ignore it, that problem is going to keep getting worse. I believe that military can disconnect us from what our body is trying to tell us emotionally. Going through combat causes us to really disconnect from those emotions and messages that our bodies are trying to tell us.
I was managing and independent music artists for a couple years after I left the military. We were on the road for about 10 months in 2010. I was in our truck driving all over the United States. I would sit in our car doing work and I remember feeling an intense pain in my neck. After a few months of ignoring that, I woke up in hotel room unable to get out of bed because my body had seized up. So I believe it’s of vital importance to learn to connect to our bodies and pay attention to what our bodies are trying to say.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing men today?
In the military I had the normal tokens of “success”. I had a great job, a woman, a house. But I was miserable. I think this is a mistake a lot of people make - they think if they have particular things in their life, they will automatically be happy.
So this is the challenge that so many veterans face. It’s hard to make sense of because it looks like we “should” be happy because we have particular things.
How can people become more connected to themselves?
Women tend to be a bit more attuned to themselves. Just by the nature of testosterone, men can become more disconnected from themselves.
First, you have to recognize what is happening to you. That you may be going to work every day but that’s not working for you. A lot of people will come to me that have really hit a bottom. I’ve also worked with a lot of people that seem to be on top of the world but it’s just not working for them.
I’ve always been kind of inquisitive and had the desire to learn about myself. But I’ve had to do a lot of work too.
One of the models I work with a lot is the “Three Stage Model”. The first stage is seeking satisfaction in the world around us. We feel like we need the world to be a certain way in order to be happy. We believe that a particular amount of money is going to make us happy. Life is exhausting in this stage. There can be a lot of coping mechanisms and addictions in this stage because we don’t want to face a deeper unhappiness.
The next stage is doing introspective work to learn more about who we are. We are no longer depending on our bank account to bring us happiness. We don’t seek validation from other people to make us feel good about ourselves.
You can’t get a man to do anything he doesn’t want to do. One of the foundations of my work is examining our boundaries with other people. When you can feel in your body that you don’t feel nourished by a particular relationship or life experience, you can start to shift that.
Forcing a man to go to therapy is not a good idea. If he’s not ready, he is going to resent you for making him go. But you can set your own boundaries and then let him decide how he wants to react to that.
What advice do you have for people that are seeking the right career for themselves?
The mind is lying to you constantly. It’s predicting a future that you can’t possibly know. We make a lot of decisions out of fear because our brain evolved to help us survive not thrive. It’s been a long road to get where I’m at now. I never thought this would be where I would end up.
If you’re listening to this, you probably have your basic needs met and are now trying to work towards more self-actualization. You’re trying to actualize the potential of your true self.
So you have to ask yourself questions like ‘What will be nourishing to me?’ When I was working with that Colonel, he didn’t have an answer to the question about what would be nourishing to him. He ended up taking a year off after retirement and traveled. It was a year long exploration for him. He was able to wake up his vitality and love for life. What we’re talking about here is survival versus “thrival”. My sense of fulfillment came when I went toward my inner ‘Yes’ even if that meant walking away from something that was more profitable.
I remember as I was transitioning out, I received an offer from Lockheed Martin. An executive there offered me a position. I considered it very briefly but everything in my was pushing me away from that. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but that wasn’t it.
Today, we have so many resources and ways to connect with other people. So when you separate, you can connect with other people that are going through the same thing. I traveled after I left the military and it was hard and very isolating. But today, there are so many resources you can lean on to help you through that transition.
What does your day-to-day look like?
I’m a life and relationship coach so throughout the week I work with clients around the world. I’ll see them throughout the week. I also do a lot of writing and sharing blogs. I also have online programs to help people navigate the challenges of intimacy and relationships. It’s been a slowly evolving journey and I never would have thought this is where I would end up. But I got here because I kept saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that I felt called to. And I feel so fulfilled in my life today. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t made these choices in support of my ‘yes’.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m very proud of my military service and it was also very painful to me. I was depressed for much of that time.
I know that there’s a lot of people that do have mixed feelings about their time in the military. It’s something to be incredibly proud of and it’s also OK to get out and choose something else.
The third stage of the three stages is learning how to connect to your desires and simultaneously be OK with not having that. There are no guarantees except that we’re eventually going to die. So be proud of your service and know that life has something even more beautiful in store for you. Your only job is to say ‘yes’ to what speaks to you and calls to you.