#63 - Dr. John Delony on parenting, mental health, and prioritizing relationships in the digital age

April 2, 2024
John Delony

Episode Summary

This week on The Aro Podcast, Joey sits down with Dr. John Delony, a seasoned crisis responder, speaker, and host of The Dr. John Delony Show. John shares his unique journey from avoiding the internet to amassing over a million followers, to the challenges of seeking validation and the importance of valuing approval from close relationships rather than those online. Joey and John dive into the most common advice sought on The Dr. John Delony Show, touching on the pressing issue of loneliness in today's world. John goes on to share principles from his latest book, Building a Non-Anxious Life, emphasizing the power of choosing reality. The episode wraps up with a discussion on the impact of phones on parent-child relationships, sparked by John's viral Instagram post advocating for prioritizing children over screens. Tune in for a conversation that navigates the complexities of modern life, mental health, and meaningful connections.

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Episode Transcript

Dr. John Delony (00:00):

My daughter will turn the corner to come show me something she's excited about, see me on my phone, and she'll just turn around. I'll never even know she was there because she learns, oh, don't talk to him when that's happening and I'm out and I'll never see what I didn't even get to participate in.

Joey Odom (00:17):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good friend, Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro and Gang. We got a doozy alert today. If you've listened to the show, I don't use the term doozy lightly, but we got a doozy. Dr. John Delony joined the show today. I just had about a 50 minute conversation with him and wow, it was hilarious. He's a super funny guy, but it goes deep and it goes insightful. His answer at the very end, we talk about an Instagram post, one of the millions and millions of views that he had on this particular Instagram post about looking your kids in the eye and not looking at your phone. His answer blew me away. And then he talks about, I asked him about the show now. His show is a top 0.5% podcast in the world. It's such a great show where he dispenses brilliant wisdom and insight, but he talked about the commonality of what he hears from people, what people are asking when they're calling in.

And he says, there are two things that people are asking. His answer is just brilliant there. I don't know that I can say enough about this episode. He gives us an exercise to do. I'm going to talk about that after the show, an exercise, a challenge that I'm going to give to you. I don't feel like this episode needs much introduction. You were going to love it. Please share it with somebody. Please give us five star ratings wherever you listen. Please go follow John on Instagram for now. Sit back, relax, enjoy this doozy with Dr. John Delony

Gang. We welcome to the show today, the second smartest person in his home and the other Dr. Delony. Despite that, just like a case of rocket diarrhea, he has made his mark everywhere. He's gone. He cut his childhood mullet, but he's still all party in the back, the front, and everywhere in between. He grew up near humble and he stayed humble through all his success. You see, he's been called dean, doctor, provost, author, snake, hunter, skydiver, dad and farmer. He'll drive you to greatness, but his friends don't trust him. Behind the wheel of a car, he shreds excuses on his podcast, guitars in his spare time and his body on a ruck. Sheila says, he's a sweet tatted man who's hooked on Sour Patch kids. He's Hank's hero and I'm his second favorite. Joey, he plays a Les Paul and wants you to feel less stalled in life. He plays a Gibson and loves to give some great advice. He plays a Jackson and he wants you to be jacked. Son, get your guns up because this Red Raider is back in black. This red Raider is back in black to take your blues away. He's the Eddie Van Halen of riding the CC Deville of podcasting, and he's our guest today. Please welcome to The Aro Podcast, Dr. John Delony.

Dr. John Delony (03:05):

Dude, I am moving out of my house. My wife sold me out, man,

Joey Odom (03:11):

I got to say your friend Sam may have sold you out just a little bit here,

Dr. John Delony (03:15):

Sam, me and Sam are breaking up. That's it. Let's, man, that's my favorite intro of all time. Well done, dude.

Joey Odom (03:22):

Boom. Come on. The

Dr. John Delony (03:23):

Fact that you said CC Deville, that's a deep cut right there. I thought you in Sour Patch Kids.

Joey Odom (03:28):

I thought the Sour Patch kids. I thought the CC deville. Now, the one thing you may not have recommended, you may have just immediately dismissed the fact that people around you say you're not a great driver, but you kind of refute that. Is that

Dr. John Delony (03:44):

Correct? I think I'm an amazing driver. My wife has, this is months ago, but we're doing something and oh, we're talking about our will and every year we go through our will and the state of things, make sure we're on the same page. Here's where all the stuff is, and somehow it came up our death and she's like, oh, no, no, I already know you're going to die in a car wreck. And I was like, what? And she goes, I said, what are you talking about? And she goes, oh, there's a hundred percent chance. That's how you die. And I was like, man, I hope somebody does a podcast and figures out it's you that cut my brake lines or something if you're that confident. And she's like, no, no, no. You are the worst driver who's ever existed. And I reject that wholeheartedly. Listen, Joey, I'm incredible behind the wheel.

Joey Odom (04:33):

I believe that. Well, if nothing else, you're decisive. And that's what I like about it. If you're decisively driving through a red light, who's going to question you? You know

Dr. John Delony (04:40):

What I mean? Listen, I don't pay attention very much. I've got a friend that said, I'll be walking by you and go, Hey, Deloy, and you won't answer me. And I don't even get my feelings hurt. I know you're not with us right now.

Joey Odom (04:50):


Dr. John Delony (04:50):

Not with us. And said, the way he said it, I was like, you all, he's like, yeah, man. It's just kind of making your way through the world, dude. So yeah, I'm not great, not great. I

Joey Odom (05:00):

Like that. Alright, so I got to ask, this is one thing, and I've gone down a delony wormhole, like a deep delony wormhole. What I want to know is you, again, this is the what, overnight success, decades in the making type of thing. But bro, the last few years you have exploded. And this, I'm going to ask this in a way where it doesn't bring on you feeling the need to be humble about it, but how did this happen? However, the last four years have you exploded just like rocket diarrhea. How have you exploit good kind of rocket diarrhea, like a fragrant, like a good smelling one? How have you exploded on the scene like that? By the way, here, rocket diarrhea is your term. That's not mine.

Dr. John Delony (05:42):

I do use it too frequently. It's just pretty descriptive, right?

Joey Odom (05:46):

It's That's an awkward question. I know this is an awkward question.

Dr. John Delony (05:51):

No, no, no. It's not awkward at all. I'm trying to think of the right way to do it. Here's the honest truth. The reason I pause is because I understand how insane it is that I'm sitting here, no question about it. And I also know people work so hard day in, day out, 24 7, 365, putting in the work and the time and the time and the time and the time to try to have a platform like this. I totally get that, but it would be dishonest for me to tell it any other way, which is I had no social media. I disappeared from the internet. In fact, two universities ago I had the dean call me in and she was like, Hey, I look like I don't have a dean of students here. You have to be on the website that says, I have a dean of students.

And I was like, I don't want to. And she's like, I don't care what you want. So I just tried to avoid everything. Anytime I would meet with somebody, they'd turn their phone off. I wanted to be present with people, period. And I didn't want it exist on the internet. And I was given a speech, and this isn't hyperbole, this isn't like, oh, I mean, my marriage was a mess. I had a talk to give in front of a thousand parents and students and I forgot about it. And they reminded me a few hours before I don't forget it, at two o'clock my admin did. And I was like, what? I have a what? And I thought it was going to be in front of a couple of hundred. It ended up being a thousand people in this theater. And I gave probably was the best speech of my life.

And it just so happened that Dave Ramsey's executive VP was in the audience dropping her daughter off at the university I was working at. And she said, pointed up, she said, I'm hiring that guy. Wow. And then I mean, Dave Ramsey's about finances and getting out of debt and they didn't have anything to do with mental health or emotional health relationships or anything. But then once I met the team, they're like, you just say things in a weird unique way. And then my wife said something really prophetic and we were deciding whether to do this. She knew that I don't like technology, I don't like the internets and I'm better in person. And she said, the only way this works is if you're fully you. And I said, oh, that'll be easy. And she goes, no, no, no, no, no, it won't. If you build an avatar, if you build this persona, eventually that will come to light and this whole thing will crash.

And so you got to be who you are out the gate. And she said, and you're really weird, she's, I was like, we both, I don't see cognitive dissonance in driving a Prius and deer on my way to a deer hunt. I don't know why. That's a weird thing. I don't know why people care about their shoes. I don't understand that I care about my shoes, but get a markup. I don't understand that. I don't understand why anybody would play offender. It just doesn't make sense. Play Gibson's for God's sake or Jackson or Les Paul. Yeah, exactly. Anything. And I also have spent my whole career working with people in the margins. And I believe in being fiscally conservative and don't spend money you don't have. It's just all these things that are common sense to me in a pot makes me weird. And so I think that what has worked over the last four years is a big tall guy with a bunch of tattoos who's got a couple of PhDs, but more than all of that nonsense is I really love people and I've been working with hurting people. And I think that rings true.

Joey Odom (09:26):

That speech you gave, do you believe it was the content or was it, I mean, you have this infectious energy and it's what people talk about, what people love about you. There are some people probably they don't like about you because it's just, there are some people, I don't know who they are, they probably exist, maybe, probably not. But it's that energy that it is so magnetic and some people can't, in some ways they can't handle that kind of decisiveness and confidence. But was it the energy, was it the content? Was it a little mixture of both? What was it that resonated so deeply with Ramsey's example?

Dr. John Delony (09:58):

Well, it's going to sound strange. It was the first time I felt not the first time. That's not true. I think I got up there and told the truth and I told a room full of parents dropping their kids off. If you do not let your kids grow up, you are going to be hurting them for the long haul. And of course, this is interwoven with a bunch of diarrhea jokes, but you have to let your kids grow up and hey, kids, don't tweet things and don't get tattoos yet. Get a bunch of them. Just wait till you're 25. So I think it was me telling the truth in a way that people could hear it. I just don't wait into controversial stuff. I just don't think there's that much controversial stuff. I think you treat people right and you love people and you help your neighbor and let's get on with our lives. It is too messy out there. What

Joey Odom (10:49):


Dr. John Delony (10:49):

Statement. Yeah. Oh, I just don't have time for it, man.

Joey Odom (10:52):

Yeah, don't wait. It's

Dr. John Delony (10:53):

Just a weird feedback loop. Don't off time.

Joey Odom (10:56):

I'm curious, when you said, will you tell me a little bit more, when you said you've been working with people in the margins, we explained what that means, people in the margins.

Dr. John Delony (11:04):

Yeah. Working in the university as a dean of students for all these years, you're working with folks who are trying to harm themselves, who have learning disabilities, who are the gay and lesbian kids whose parents said, if you come home, you can't ever come to our house again to the kids who are the wrong race, in the wrong community, in the wrong neighborhood, who show up at your university. And you're like, I don't belong here. And kids who are too smart or who aren't smart enough or have learning exceptionalities or any number of special needs. So it's always been, or this kid that man, he's a good kid, good kid. And dude, you can't sell weed here, man. You're going to go to jail and I love you and here's, I'm going to walk through this with you and I'll be here when you get back, but this is what's going to happen. Or the sexual assault victim. So it's always been people who, everybody's just going about their day, about their day, about their day. And you don't realize, oh, my neighbor in my class is going through this and my neighbor in my class next to me, the kid sitting next to me in algebra.

You have no idea what they're going through. And so that's just been my whole career. And if everybody knew if we could turn the lights off in a classroom or in our office spaces or in our churches or wherever, we turn the lights off and asked a few questions like who's hurting? Who's been exposed to abuse, who's experienced some of these things? And then when you flip the lights on, everyone's hand would be up. I think everyone would exhale and then they could stop performing, right, dude. And that's why social media is so evil. It's because all it is is a performance. It's just a performance.

Joey Odom (12:46):

And the fact that your wife, that Sheila gave you that advice just as long as you're yourself very wise, very wise, how could you possibly encourage somebody else to stop performing if you yourself are performing in an effort to do that? I had,

Dr. John Delony (12:59):

But hold on. Here's the other side of that, and I don't want to miss this. The other side of it is here was the other shoe that she so wisely put out there to drop. If this doesn't work and you end up going back to work at the university, our family's not going to starve. We're going to be okay, but you're going to have to go to bed at night knowing they didn't like you. And she said, I do. And I always will Your kids do your friends, you've had the same friends for 40 years. Your friends love you, but you're going to have to know at large the word sheet. She's like, America didn't like you. They didn't think your jokes were funny. They didn't think your insights were good. They didn't like the way you communicated, and you got to be okay with that. And that was the, is this going to bury me? And the beauty is if I had done this when I was 30 years old, dude, I would've been really attached to that outcome at 40, man, whatever. I don't care. Which allows you to hold it really loosely and just help the person in front of you without worrying about how does this fit my brand? I don't know, man. I just know that guy's hurting. Let's show up and see if we can help shine a light somewhere.

Joey Odom (14:08):

Does it really not bother? I mean a lot of people, I do have the idea of being loved and liked and think I'm funny. That is a big thing. And I feel like in this process I've grown a little bit more detached from the comments don't bother you, the random ones, but there's still that in you. Do you naturally need the approval I'm describing that I need

Dr. John Delony (14:29):

Approval from? I do. And it's hard. I struggle with that. I've had body dysmorphia issues my whole life. I struggle with image, but I need it from people. I care about Sam who runs pr. After I get done with something, she'll look at me and say, you did a great job on that. That's important to me. Or if she says, you didn't do a good, that doesn't hurt me or bury me, then she's great about feedback. So with loved ones, when my wife and I sat across the table from each other, I'll never forget this, and we were deciding, are we going to stay married or not? Let's just be adults. We're not going to be babies and wine and kick and scream. Are we going to keep doing this because this can't continue the way? And we both opted in. Yes, we're in. And this means we have to build something new from the ground up.

One of the things I said as something I need to be true moving forward, and dude, I was so embarrassed to say this out loud, but I said, I've been chasing one thing for 20 years. I've known you. Will you just say you're proud of me? I work hard. I work all night, I work three jobs. I'm doing this and this. And she's like, man, I had no idea. I never wanted to pander to, right? So yeah, I chase it, I do. But dude, I think it's Chris Williamson. I don't really take a lot of critiques from people whose lives I don't want. If I don't want your life, then feel free to say what you're going to say. I do. When Lane Norton would call me and be like, Hey, you said something. Your science is way off, but he's a close friend and he has permission, right? Yes. But that bothers me. I want to make sure I'm right. But nah, I don't care.

Joey Odom (16:14):

It's interesting. They talk about in product design or in a company, when you have something, when you segment your customers and you ask them, how would you feel if you could no longer use this product? And the answers are very disappointed, somewhat disappointed, not disappointed. And so what conventional wisdom would say is you would listen, most of the people who would say, I would not be disappointed if I could no longer use this product. Now that's a double negative because you would think like, oh, hey, how can we get those people who don't like it at all? How can we get them to like it? What they say is you completely discard that group's feedback and you never listen to a single thing they said. All you listen to is the people who say they would be very disappointed without your product. And then you double down on what they say you're doing well, and then you double down. And then the other side of it, you double down on things they say you can improve on. So they love you anyway with the whole goal of the people in the middle. That's your greenfield. How can you get people a little bit closer to that, which has been a, to me, that was a freeing thought to say, okay, you can dismiss the people who just don't get it. And that's totally fine. And I think that's exactly what you're saying. If we could walk through that mentality in our personal lives, how powerful would that be?

Dr. John Delony (17:18):

Well, the info isn't mine. I'm borrowing heavily from Terry Real and from Este Perel and from rolo May from some of these brilliant thinkers. And if you can't hear it from me, my God, that's great. That's okay, but get it from somebody, right? And if you want some more scientific nuance, then dude, a Stanford medical school professor just cranked out a black sheet in his kitchen, and you can get that. And if you want somebody who is a mom, Becky Kennedy's amazing. Yeah. She's the best with her information, right? Yeah. And if you want a guy just because you need an older brother just to shoot you straight, I'm probably your guy. And so I think the beauty is I don't feel like I have to own it all. I want people to have better lives. And if they get it from me, great. If they don't, man, what else can I do about that? Right? Yeah, that's

Joey Odom (18:08):


Dr. John Delony (18:09):

I'm just chasing ghosts

Joey Odom (18:10):

And the place where you are doing it and it's so brilliant. It's like a, did you ever listen to Dr. Laura? Dr.

Dr. John Delony (18:18):

Oh yeah. Dr. Laura Old, Dr. Phil. Yeah.

Joey Odom (18:22):

The call in show, your show, the Dr. John Delony show. The Dr show is, it reminds me a lot of that because Dr. Laura, she had seen it all so much. When she would hear something, she would be able to very quickly understand, I don't need all the superfluous details. I understand the heart of the matter. And let me tell you a truth here. And you do such a brilliant job of that. And the podcast is top 0.05 podcasts in the world. You have a million people following you on Instagram. I mean, it really is this, and it's because of what you said. It's because you're speaking very truthfully. And I'm curious in your experience prior to that and then your experience here, you mentioned a bunch of people, marginalized people, a bunch of people who are going through stuff earlier, and all the people who are in the margins. Did you find with those people, and do you find with people who call in, is there a thing, what's at the heart you believe? And it may not just be one thing, but what's at the heart of the thing that all of those people who are feeling marginalized or feeling down or feeling low or calling in for help, what is at the heart of what those people are asking you for? What's the real question they're

Dr. John Delony (19:28):

Asking Joey? That's such a great question, man. I think there's two answers to that. I think at the heart.

I'll say it this way. Back when I was 21 years old, I was a high school basketball coach in Houston. It's one of my favorite jobs I've ever had. They gave me a bus and 15 sophomores in high school, and then it went on to the freshmen B team. And dude, we traveled the city just steamrolling people. It was so great. These athletes were amazing, but they were hilarious and super, super, super diverse school. And I remember I had been brought up with this idea of colorblindness back in the eighties and early nineties, and I remember after just living, we all live together. We live together, you breathe together, you do everything together. You're with each other before school, during school, after school, you're traveling, you got weekends. And I realized the most insulting thing I could tell them is, I don't see you for who you are.

And I don't see that you've got hard stuff going on in your life. And so to answer your question full circle, if I had a law student once who was blind and I was trying to explain some things and I said, Hey, do you mind if I share with the rest of the group your disability? Which is a legal question I'm asking. And she looked at me or she looked up at me, she couldn't see me, and she looked up at me and goes, oh, do you think they don't know? Then I'm blind. And she started dying laughing and I was like, oh man, my bad. So I think number one, when people call in and everyone I've worked with, they know whatever the thing is, they know and the whole world dances round it. And if I can let you know, no, I see you, I see you.

I see that your husband's going to be not alive anymore because he's got a cancer diagnosis, I'm not going to dance round it. And I'll ask, Hey, can I speak direct? Is that okay? But man, if you're on the margin, you know nobody's tricking you. And it's when we don't honor people, we pat 'em on the head and we say, Hey, we're just not going to say it because it sounds scary. It's you that's scared, not them. They deal with this every single day. The second thing is I think people are calling with this scary, terrifying question of what do I do now? That question I think has been the most thread through question through everyone I've ever sat with. Lost somebody, lost a loved one, lost a kid to suicide. I've had to make that call too many times to call on a parent, tell 'em that their kid's passed away, kid who said, Hey, you can't come home for Thanksgiving anymore.

You're not welcome to this home for Christmas. The question always ends up what are going to do now? And I think everybody sits in that question, and now we're so inundated with opinions and you should do this. I can't believe you didn't do that. And oh my gosh. And people are just saying, I don't have anyone to trust. When I first kicked the show off, people would call me and call. I kept asking the same question, just instinctively, why are you calling me, man? Call your friend. They'd be like, Hey, we haven't had sex for two years. And I'd be like, bro, I'm a podcaster in Nashville. Ask your friends, man, N or My husband got cancer and I don't know how to tell the kids. How do I do this? And every person had the same answer, dude, I got nobody. And that was this scary like, oh, people are super lonely out there. And that's just been reiterated, but it's this idea of what are we going to do? What do I do now? And I think that's the question most people are asking.

Joey Odom (23:20):

Wow, that whole issue of loneliness. I had woman by the name of Liz Bohannon who's a speaker, she's a great speaker, and she said a stat that if you see a good friend three times a week, that the happiness increase you experience is equivalent to an annual salary raise of a hundred thousand dollars.

Dr. John Delony (23:41):

Wow. Isn't what a great stat.

Joey Odom (23:43):

Isn't that great? Three times a week, a good friend three times a week. But my wife and I were volunteering at, when we lived in Atlanta, we were volunteering at a church and we were working the front desk. And then someone came in like the little prayer quest box, and someone dropped in and it was open and it said something very nice looking, probably college girl. She walked away and saw it and it said, I am so beyond lonely. I feel like there's no one here. I'm all alone. And I just looked at that girl and then I thought, I bet you, and what's sad about that is she probably sat next to somebody who could have written the same exact letter, the same exact card yet. And if you said, okay, let's all stand up and said, I bet you it had meant over half the audience, yet we're all walking around. It's like this certain level of despair. And by the fact, the scary thing you don't want to say to your point there is if we just start getting that oxygen, that idea, a little bit of oxygen, I bet you that people, they walk away from your show, they feel, okay, I feel empowered. I just gave it a little bit of oxygen. Oxygen, and now I can go do the next best thing. I can do my next thing.

Dr. John Delony (24:46):

Well, if there's one, we could pull apart culture wars, which I'm so uninterested in and we could pull apart, can you believe this group says this? And that group says, that's just such a waste of our time. Underneath it all I think is important. And this is both political parties. It's a mass cultural culture of disempowerment. You are the worst thing that ever happened to you. I just got to pat you on the head. You're always going to be in the margin. You're never going to be able to make enough money because of this or this or that. You're never going to, because the housing market's too crazy. You're always going to be less than. So you just wait right there and I'll come save you. And I just reject that because I've worked with people who have overcome such insane odds, wild odds, and I just can't be about it anymore. And so I do think you can. It's going to look different than your parents. It's going to look different than the fantasy you got on Instagram. It's going to look different than this incredible life picture you created for yourself in your mind. You might not be able to be a book editor at a hipster place in Manhattan because the math doesn't work.

But I bet you can find a place that you can call home and a job that will give you purpose and you can add meaning to people's lives. I know that's there and I believe in you. Let's go there. Let's go for empowerment, not Yolo, and you deserve and it's because of them that you're unhappy. I'm just going to stop All that. Just doesn't help. Doesn't help.

Joey Odom (26:24):

That's so true. The one cool thing that strikes me is that the one thing that you're people are craving from you and that you give to them is what you just said, is that I see you just that message. I see you, I see you, I see you. I see. And what a cool, you have millions of people who listen to you, but you step out of there and you're individual who goes into a Starbucks and you're an individual who is driving on the road. And we all have that opportunity to say that exact same message. I'm speaking to myself here too, just the reminder that just to say, Hey, I see you, and what a beautiful thing. I mean, have you remember in the story of, gosh, Abraham and Sarah, when the, I forget the mine's name left, and then she ran away and then God encountered her and God talked to her. And what she said was she said, and this is one of our earliest, I mean, this is Genesis. This is early, early. And she said, you were the God who sees me. And so you think how deep and innate is that need that the thing she said when she encountered the Almighty was, you see me? How freaking powerful

Dr. John Delony (27:27):

Is that? It's the only thing that matters. This is going to sound woo woo and cheesy and obnoxious. And people are going to think that dude's from Texas. Yes. And I'm telling you, next time you go to an airport or next time you walk into a coffee shop, I want you to look at every single person that you see and think in your head, I love that guy. Wow, I love her. I did it the other day at an airport walking from one, I turned into the terminal. I was walking all the way down to my gate and it's like terminal's like gate five and your gate is Gate 47. Well, I'm going to be walking for the next four weeks. And I just started, hopefully not creepily, but every person I saw, the elderly woman with the walker. I love that woman that dad who's walking who's got a humongous belly and a mustache, and he's eating a whopper with cheat.

I love that guy. And listen, I tried to do it with every person. And by the time I got to my gate, I was so exhausted, I was tired. But I realized my whole life is just a blur of people going by and me staying in my own little cocoon. And when that exercise, I had to see people and that was a worthy endeavor, man. It's exhausting. And I got a work up stamina, but it was eyeopening for me. But again, just working to see people and people, the thing I love about Jesus when he shows up, it's never issue first, it's safe first. I see you first. It's, Hey, will you give me a cup of water? I'm going to give you a purpose, and then I'm going to tell you, I know you. I know you. And then at the very end I'm going to say, Hey, there's another way to do life if you're interested. It's not the, hey, when you get your craft together, come let me come talk to me. That's not how it works. No, I'm going to get in front of you between all these dudes who are trying to kill you. And then I'm going to tell you I love you. And then I'm going to tell you, you got no score on the board for me. And hey, it doesn't have to be like this. I'm going to do it in that order. I

Joey Odom (29:28):

I's so cool about, I don't know if you intentionally did this, but what brilliance in there of the two things you said on your show is you say, I see you first, and then here's your next step. That's exactly what Jesus did. Hey, it

Dr. John Delony (29:39):

Has to be in that order. It has to be in that order. In

Joey Odom (29:41):

That order, right?

Dr. John Delony (29:42):

Because politicians come at us and start yelling, you all need to do this. And you know what we do? Our walls come up that have been there since we were four years old, that are innate, that have kept our human species alive. And I don't hear a word you say, because I have to defend myself versus, no, see you, man. I know you're struggling. I know it hurts. I think we can do this different. And alright, you got my attention.

Joey Odom (30:04):

Let's share a quick story. This was probably six years ago. I was walking through the Atlanta Hartsfield airport, busy airport obviously. And I was kind of meandering. I was taking my time, which I'm a very orderly walker generally, but I been, I'm six five, I walk with a purpose, you know what I mean? Again, I stride out. And so this guy goes by me and he said, oh, why don't you just take up the whole terminal? And a lot of days, John, I would've been like, oh man. But this day I was like, huh, not today. And so I got confrontational with this guy. This guy's probably close to 50 at that time. I get confrontational. The next thing I can, I'll share the full story with you off camera. The next thing you know, he and I are nose to nose. I'm in my thirties. I'm, I guess going to fight a 50-year-old guy in the airport like an idiot. What am I doing? I've never been into fight. And so his girlfriend separates us. Finally, he walks off and I say a comment. I was like, yeah, bro, that's what I thought. Walk away. And he turned around and he said something that wells up tears now. And he said the full word. He goes, Hey, a-hole. He goes, my dad just died. And I heard it. And it's like everything changed.

And he goes off. I chase him down, I guess. Said, bro, I'm the last person you want to talk to in the world. I just can't tell you how sorry I am. He and I ended up, we're in tears hugging in the middle of Hartsfield. We still exchange family pictures with each other. But it was a moment where I thought, hold on, if you could just like that exercise you talked about in the airport. I love that guy. I love that guy. I love that guy. And then you start to think, well, that guy's pissed off about something. Something must be going on. I bet he's not just a jerk, but what an amazing opportunity every day to do something like that.

Dr. John Delony (31:58):

Yeah, dude, that's beautiful, man.

Joey Odom (32:00):

Will you tell me,

Dr. John Delony (32:01):

I remember real quick, there's that great conversation with Jocko, the Navy Seal guy. And the guy asks, alright, so you're walking down the sidewalk with your wife and your three kids and some guy pops out and steps to you, what do you do? And Jocko goes, Navy seal like a juujitsu black belt 50 times over. He said, I would just grab my wife's hand in one of my daughter's hands and I'd go across the street and get on the other sidewalk. And the guy said, what about your wife's honor? And Jocko's answer was so amazing. He said, if I need to beat up a stranger on the street to show my wife, I honor her. I have failed her in every way imaginable. And I just remember going, gosh,

Joey Odom (32:49):


Dr. John Delony (32:50):

What a cheap dime store version of honor. Wow. And then he smiled and he goes, there's only a handful of men who can defeat me in hand-to-hand combat on planet Earth. And they all do it for a living. And I was like, what a statement

Joey Odom (33:03):

To say, what a stud.

Dr. John Delony (33:06):

But yeah, anyway, you never know what people are going through. Dude, I'm going to walk across the street. I'll buy you a drink. Have a good week. I wish you the best. I love that guy. He's clearly going through something that's nothing to do with me. Right? I

Joey Odom (33:18):


Dr. John Delony (33:19):

That guy. I'm heading on. Yeah,

Aro Member (33:23):

I don't want to demonize technology. I live far away from my family. I need technology to stay close. I appreciate what technology can do, but I also see what it can do on the negative side, which is this disconnect from each other. And it's so important that we keep that alive. To your point, having those face-to-face conversations, looking at people in the eye when they're talking to you, those life skills, I feel like technology compounded with Covid from what I hear. I don't have kids that are much older yet, but kids are just isolating more. I get it. They've gone through a lot and really trying to keep them engaged with the world means they have to disengage from technology. So it's not, never use it, it's just have some framework around it. And like you said, normalize it. Normalize. You shouldn't be having a conversation with someone and looking them in the face and they're looking down at their phone. That is just not, and maybe for some people, that's okay. Back to the value thing that I said. For me, that's where I'm coming from with them. How do you feel when someone talks to you and they don't look at you? It feels like I don't exist. So would you want that? And not just like you can't use your phone. I feel like they need a little bit of more of understanding of the context to then be like, okay, it sucks that I can't get a phone yet, but I kind of get it.

Joey Odom (34:44):

We love hearing stories from the Aro community. The one you just heard actually comes from our Voices of Aro episodes where I sit down with Aro members and they share about their stories and their lives with Aro. Make sure to check out the voices of Aro episodes. And if you're a member who would like to share your own story with Aro, please email us at stories@goAro.com. Will you say this on the show all the time? And man, I just love it so much and I'd love to hear kind of the origin of it and the depth behind what you mean is you are worth being, well, what a statement you are worth being. Well, and you say it to others, but man, I love the idea of even people listening here looking in the mirror and saying that to yourself. You're worth being. Well, will you talk to us about that?

Dr. John Delony (35:30):

Yeah. I mean, some of that's autobiographical. It was a year or two ago, I was meeting with a trauma. It was pretty tough stuff. And I said out loud, the ticker tape running underneath my life is that I'll edit it for. But it was like, you're a piece of crap. You're a piece of crap. You're a piece of crap. And I said, I don't really even know where that comes from other than a distorted picture that I think I absorbed somehow in the ethos. It wasn't from my family, I don't think it was from my church I grew up in, but that God was really, really pissed off at me that I had screwed up so badly. I was so such a piece of garbage. He had to kill his own kid for me and that he was just waiting to get me back. And if I just do one bad thing, then he could for, you know what I mean?

And so it was this sense of you're the worst, you're the worst, you're the worst. And that just became the ticker. You don't look good enough. You're never going to be smart enough. You're never going to be smart enough. That old Brene Brown quote, which I just love, which whatever you go looking for in the world you are sure to find when the ticker tape is, you're a piece of crap. Then you're going to see that everywhere, right? You're going to see it everywhere. And so my social team, I don't, dude, I don't know anything about social media. If you said, Hey, I need you to log into Facebook, or your family's going to pass away, I'd be like, well, I probably need to tell them goodbye. I dunno how to do it. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

What's that from baseball. That's an idiot's code on his luggage. I do Instagram. I know how that works. Well, if it goes up 5,001 day and 6,000 the next day, and then the next day it only goes up 1000, I'm like, we're failing. It's all going down. But my team, they'll go, you went up a hundred thousand people in a month. That's a lot. I'm like, is that a lot? And they're like, that's a lot. You need to take about 40% off your little drama here. And so all I can see is we're failing, we're failing, we're failing. And I miss how insane all the rest of this, the success is, right? And I do that with my wife. I do that with my kids. I do that with finances. I do that with everything. It's just idea of scarcity. So that's part of it.

And so out of our own pain is how we often talk to other people. I don't want anyone else to ever look in the mirror and think they're less than. So it's almost pathological for me. I need you to hear from me. You are what you have to do to go get well, your adventure is going to be hard. Losing 50 pounds is miserable. Healing a broken marriage, telling your wife you cheated on her, getting rid of your pornography addiction, getting off whatever the thing is, is the worst. Being 50 and deciding I have to go back and get another associate's degree at a community college because my job's about to go away to ai, that's hard. And you can't do it anchored into a platform of you're a piece of crap. You're a piece of crap you can anchor into. Now I'm worth this hard adventure.

I'm about to go on to get to the next step. I'm worth that. I don't think so. Part of it is I don't want anyone to walk through life. I feel sometimes. The second thing is I know you can only be successful. You can only do something if you think it's worth it. I put money away every month in a retirement account. I think it's going to be worth it someday. I bought a house, I did the math on it, and the math is worth it. Similarly, if you don't think you're worth losing 50 pounds or healing your marriage, you're not going to. So none of the things I say to people matter if you don't think you're worth it. And I think we have a bunch of people walking round who hate themselves. They just don't like what they see in the mirror.

Joey Odom (39:20):

And again, it shouldn't be because you are a human, but it is, I mean, it's shocking to hear somebody who gives such clear thought and guidance to people knowing that you've struggled with that, which to me just ups your qualifications to an infinite degree. Just knowing that, yeah, I relate to that. I need to hear that. And what an amazing thing for people to know that he can relate to what I'm going through. And I assume I got to think that's another, even though you speak clearly directly to people on the show, it's not, it is relatable and it's not self-righteous, something that you can understand. I think you're only, correct me if I'm wrong, I think you're only able to give such clear guidance because you understand and you can feel it too.

Dr. John Delony (40:03):

Yeah, I think there's a curse in, I'm back to harp it on social media again, but especially the influencer culture. And it happens a lot in churches, but there's this idea of, I had an experience, so I'm an expert. The number of people I've sat with, it's like my husband cheated on me and we worked it out and we want to start a infidelity ministry. And it's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. You had an experience that doesn't make you an expert. And so I think it's all of it. I think you have to have the academic knowledge. You have to know what you're talking about, and you have to have walked with a whole bunch of other people because anxiety looks different in a thousand, it looks a thousand different ways in a thousand people. And you begin to see the common threads. And then, yeah, you add on top of that. No, I've been there, man. I've been there. That adds a level of credibility, and I think that's why certain people, you just hear 'em, right? That guy wants to be a good dad. I get that. You know what I mean? You feel it.

Joey Odom (41:01):

Well, you tell your book, your most recent book, building a non-anxious Life, you have six daily choices of a non-anxious life. After this. I want to talk a little bit of technology. Will you hit on one of those? You just mentioned anxiety. Will you hit on one of those? The reality, connection, freedom, mindfulness, health and healing and belief. What one of those, for somebody maybe listening to who may be feeling a little tinge of anxiety, what are one of those that you think really resonates and hits people as they're dealing with anxiety?

Dr. John Delony (41:30):

Oh, man. I mean, that's a great question. I think it depends on where you happen to be. The whole premise of the book is I don't think we're broken. I don't think anxiety is the problem. I think in fact, our bodies are working pretty well. If we all got anxious at the same time, the question to ask is not why is everyone broken? But dude, what kind of world have we created that our bodies are all trying to get our attention with the same alarm system? That's the question. And so when I begin to say, how do I opt out of the system? How do I unplug from the matrix?

These are six things I can do every day, and then my body will stop sounding the anxiety alarms. I'll just go the first one. What do we call it? The attention economy. That's a really cute way of saying the distraction economy. The whole world spins on. Look over here. Look over here. There's something wrong with you. Have I got the plan for you? Or have I got the thing and I'm selling products, I'm writing books. I'm in the same thing, but the whole thing, look over here, look over here, look over here, look over here. And then you end up sitting on the couch next to your partner and you're literally 12 inches apart, but you're 10,000 miles away from each other. She's on her iPad, you're on your phone, and you're off to the races. So this idea of choosing reality is an act of rebellion.

It's an act of being honest and saying, what is the state of my marriage? What's the state of my finances? I'm going to pull out a yellow pad and a piece of paper with a pen like it's 1986, and I'm going to write down who do I owe money to? I'm going to pull a credit report and find out every credit card that I have opened, who do I owe money to? And I'm going to exhale. This is reality. This is the state of things. Yesterday, I'm been the dentist in five years, not because I'm disgusting. My teeth were great, but I am actually kind of OCD about my teeth. But I have a whole bunch of root canals from when I was a kid and I hated going to the dentist. But here's the deal. I haven't been in so long. I've got to choose reality.

And I'm getting old enough to where it's going to impact my cardiovascular health, my heart health. I'm not careful. So I got to own reality. What's the state of things? What's the state of maloney's teeth? And turns out they're great, but it's wading into those scary questions. Why does my teenager keep coming in and slamming the door? Oh, those teens just don't like their parents. No, you gut knows something else is going on. Why do I keep walking in my house staring at my phone? What is that helping numb me from? So choosing reality is an act of defiance in an era of distraction. And so I don't think you can run a marathon if you don't know where the starting line is. And so choosing reality is about taking inventory, what is the state of my life, and then owning it. And then we're going to head off from there.

Joey Odom (44:25):

I love that. I had about 15 people send me an Instagram post that you posted a few months ago. I want to read it to you.

Dr. John Delony (44:33):

Oh, oh, sorry if I got you in trouble.

Joey Odom (44:37):

No, it said, look, your children in the eyes, as soon as you hear their voice, put down your phone and look them in the eyes. Even if you just have to tell them that you need some time to finish a project, read an email or send a text. But don't talk to a child without making eye contact. Your children deserve more dignity and respect than a fancy metal box that got millions and millions of views. Why was that beautiful message so big? Why did that blow up so big, that simple, approachable message that's available to all of us every single day? Why was it so profound, and why did that touch so many people?

Dr. John Delony (45:18):

My guess is because I was talking to my daughter while staring at my phone. I think it was real. And she kept saying, daddy, look at this picture I drew, and it was going to be of some wolf dragon with a, I don't know what she, yeah, she's a smart one. And I kept saying, it's great. And she would say, you're not looking. And I'd say, I did. I looked, it's awesome. And she turned and walked away with a posture that I had seen working with abuse kids. And the posture is, man, that box is more beautiful than me. That box has my dad's wrapped attention. What do I got to do to get that? And it was this defeated. He will love me as she walked away, and I just put the stupid freaking phone down. And I remember saying out loud to myself, she's at least worth your eye contact, dude.

At least look at her. And most of those black text box posts are me screwing something up and me catching myself. And so I think the authenticity, that's a word that's kind of beaten to the ground, but I think the, oh, this is real time. I just did that. And so I posted a note to myself as an accountability measure. When a child walks in a room, put your phone down. Even if you're in the middle of something heavy, I can set it down, look at my child and say, Hey, I'm in the middle of sending my boss a text about work tomorrow. Hang right there. You have value. You're worth everything. I have to finish this. Great. I just drew a boundary. That's no problem. And I gave my kid a timeline. All those parenting techniques that we know, but it's a matter of treating them like a person, not treating them like a second class citizen to a fancy digital box.

Joey Odom (47:11):

And dude, it's nibbling away. It's nibbling away. I mean, that's why we're doing what we're doing. This is nibbling away at those little moments. I heard a story, a guy mentioned that he went to his daughter's gymnastics practice and he had happened by accident, left his phone in the car, and he was like, oh, I'll just watch her doing gymnastics. And he said she had to have looked over 20 times during the practice and he had never seen. He's like, oh, maybe she just knew I was up off the phone. No, no, no. She does it every time. Every time. She does it every time. And just this time you happen to notice because, and the term Aro means to notice, our kids notice every single thing we do. They notice they are just because their brains are forming. It's a lot better than I do. Their brains are forming. And so they're noticing and they're taking in, and then they're deciding, okay, now how do I adapt brain? How do you adapt towards survival when it comes to this? So if it's opening up to dad and being intimate, being close with dad, dad, shut it down last time. Okay, next time, don't be intimate. Got it. It just begins to erode

Dr. John Delony (48:14):

Or what you don't see is you just mentioned with that gymnastics young lady, my daughter will turn the corner to come show me something she's excited about. See me on my phone. And she'll just turn around. I'll never even know she was there. She learns, oh, don't talk to him when that's happening. And I'm out and I'll never see what I didn't even get to participate in. And here's the other. Is it boring? Talking about Wolf Dragons, bro?

Is elementary school gymnastics just kids doing jumps like two inches off the ground? Is that fun? No. My job isn't to be fun and stimulated and happy all the time. That is a modern concoction. It's cocaine and cotton candy. It's not real. It's not real. What's real is the drudge sludge through of you. Talk about intimate. What's intimate eye contact? What's intimate is winking at your daughter when you make a joke at her brother's expense. We think intimate is these big. I'm going to do the sex talk. They're going to remember that as a story to tell at their wedding. Their nervous system is going to remember that guy's safe. That guy didn't give a crap about me or that guy. One of the demons about growing up with a parent who struggles with alcohol addiction, they are physically present, but they're not there. And so it makes a kid insane because they go grasping for ghosts.

They're trying to connect with somebody who I see you, but they're not there. You and I both walk into a room and somebody's drunk. We know like, oh, that didn't, here. We know same as you. And I can go see a dead body and know there's the body, but that person's not here. Kids struggle with grasping and it distorts reality. Similarly, our phones are doing that same thing. My dad, he's right there. My mom is right there, but she is gone. She is 3000 miles away looking at houses at another or chatting with her friends. She's not here. And we're making our kids insane. And that's on us. That's a hundred percent. I heard this the other day, Joey and I just exhaled. It's rare that I get speechless anymore. You can tell on this podcast, I talk way too much.

But a guy said, if I hear again that those kids today have changed, I'm going to lose my mind. Kids have not changed. One I owe to. They're exactly the same. It's their freaking parents that have changed. And I just exhaled. And I was like, oh my gosh, he's right. That kid is just asking every second of every day, do you see me? And do you love me? Do you see me? And do you love me? Am I enough? Do you see me and do you love me? And what we were telling them with our actions, behaviors of language, we're telling them with our actions, Nope, nope, nope. And then we try to pay for expensive soccer camps and send 'em to fancy dance recitals as a way to kind of buy it back. But they know that box is more important than me. Period. End of story. I know I got kind of heavy. Sorry, man.

Joey Odom (51:23):

No, no. I think it is really important to sit in the heaviness. You and I are both very hopeful and optimistic that we can do something about it, but I think we need to understand the fricking weight because John, there was nobody on the planet worse than me. Nobody on the planet worse than me. And you start to see, and one way that it'll do it, if someone wants just to go through the exercise, just go look at pictures from five years ago of your kids. That's all it takes. And you realize how much it's fleeting. You realize that they're not going to look like that again. Do that and recognize this picture I'm taking right now mentally or with my phone, it's going to be something I look back five years from now. So it's right fricking now, but we got to feel the weight. We're not going to go make the change until we feel it, until we understand really what's at stake and what's going to happen if we don't.

Dr. John Delony (52:15):

Right? And we're so event driven and is this Instagramable? And what Dr. Norton will tell you is you want to get in shape, man. It's just a lot of boring stuff over and over again for the next 25 years. That's it. You want to change your diet, just make small changes over time for a long, long, long time. You want to improve your marriage, do three or four things every single day for a long, long time, and you're going to be 73 or 73 years married like my grandmother was. And then she had a soulmate. She didn't meet some knuckleheaded, David Delony that was going off to the Navy and be like, that's my soulmate. That wasn't even a thing. It's after 72 or 73 years, their lungs were the same and their arms and legs were the same. They were one. Right? But if you miss all the little stuff, man, you miss all the little stuff. And the little stuff is the stuff.

Joey Odom (53:11):

That is the stuff that's the right time to close this brother. Everybody needs to go order building an non-anxious life. Everybody right now needs to and hit. Subscribe to the Dr. John Delony show wherever you listen, go to john delony.com. Follow at John Delony. What a miss, bro. You got two other books, but we didn't even mention two other books. You got to order all the books. But what that means,

Dr. John Delony (53:37):

Oh man, that's a lot of John Delony. I'm just thinking of my buddies going, oh dude, how many times you going to say that dude's name? But it's good. I got some friends that keep me very, very humble, which we all need, right? Absolutely. Hey, I'll tell you, I'm grateful that you're having the conversation. It's important you're putting your money where your mouth, as you've got skin in the game, you're developing products that help families. So I'm really grateful, man. That's awesome.

Joey Odom (54:01):

Appreciate that, bro. Thank you. Wow. What an answer to that question about the Instagram post and what an opportunity all of us have available every day. And I think that was the theme that jumped out to me as he talked about stuff is even though he has a huge platform that he speaks from what he talks about to a lot of people we can talk about to people we come across, this opportunity is available to us every single day. I want to challenge all of us with something. And it was the exercise he talked about in the airport, just walking through and seeing somebody. I love that guy. I love that girl. And looking through that lens of love. I know that may sound, he even said, it may sound a little bit weird, may sound a little bit odd to say, probably don't go say to people's face, that's just an idea.

But what if in your mind, God, I love that guy, and maybe this could be the real test, even if they, maybe they look a lot different from you. Maybe they're making decisions that you wouldn't make. Whatever that is. How about we just say that? Love that guy, love that gal. Here's an extra step. What if it's for the people we know most, maybe the people that we're struggling with, just saying that about them. I wonder what that would do for us and just our perspective with this recognition that everybody's going through something, that everybody's going through something and they just need to be seen, and they need to be loved, and they need to know the next step. So much thanks to Dr. John Delony for joining us today, and thank you for joining us on The Aro Podcast. We can't wait to see you again next week. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.