We were lucky to catch up with Patrick Bryant recently and have shared our conversation below.
Patrick , thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to hear about the things you feel your parents did right and how those things have impacted your career and life.
If there is one fact that resonates, it’s that I would not be here without my parents. The notion seems obvious, but is easily overlooked and overshadowed sometimes. In my line of work, I often hear stories of how parents created great difficulty for my clients throughout childhood, sometimes into adulthood, through smothering, through neglect, through misattunement, through some form of maltreatment, or simply from misguided intentions. There is no shortage of how parents can screw up their kids, whether intentionally or just doing the best they can with limited resources or know-how. It seems inevitable that one will miss the mark at some point in their parenting journey. What makes the biggest difference is proving to a child that they are cared for and that one can bounce back from a challenging experience. Like many folks, I can find the flaws in some of the decisions my parents made; some directly concerning me, and others indirectly. However, there is plenty they got “right.” I cannot overstate that my literal presence in this world would not exist without these two individuals intentionally crossing paths, and choosing to have a child; Me. For that, I am eternally grateful.
As and adult awaiting the birth of my first child, I can, more than ever, understand that my parents were two human beings navigating the world in the best way they knew how. And, quite well, in fact. As a child, I assumed they knew everything, as if they had somehow been programmed to know what to do in every situation. Even when I didn’t like what they were saying or doing, I had this sense that they were simply operating from some innate deep knowing. Maybe they were.
Each of my parents had their own individual worldview with quite a bit of overlap. Both were kind and caring, especially to me. My mother was (is) nurturing, empathic, and wise. My father was ambitious, determined, and strong. Both were fun and creative. Lucky for me, many of their independent and collective attributes found their way to me. Together, they instilled in me the belief that I could do anything I wanted. However, in order to do anything, I had to mean it and commit to it. “Nothing comes for free.” Both of my parents took pride in working hard for everything they earned. I truly appreciate their intentional teaching of how things work; finances, life skills, handy work, creativity and art, and adulting in general. In my adult life, I’ve encountered many folks whose parents sheltered them from much of the “adult” business, as if children were to remain children forever, or would somehow absorb these intricate skills through osmosis. Not my parents. I still had fun, played, created, lived half my childhood in my imagination, and still had room for taking school seriously, balancing a checkbook, and taking responsibility for my space.
Music was huge in my house. While helping Mom clean the house, we jammed and grooved to records. Bands spanning The Beatles to John Berry to Chicago. I was always encouraged to play music I loved from my generation, too. We’d compare style and improvisation from Dave Matthews Band to Allman Brothers to Sly and the Family Stone. My dad bought me my first guitar. Mom drove me to and from lessons – guitar and piano. This passion for music evolved into my playing six instruments in my hayday.
Mom’s creative arts and flare for design with Dad’s entrepreneurial spirit, without a doubt, left their marks with me, and can be seen throughout each corner of my life in the present. My step-father, Carlton, has his role here, too. I’ve learned a great deal from him, as well – from appreciation for a fine restaurant to financial decisions and taxes to committing to a relationship. As I respond to this question, I’m noticing where much of the foundational, almost ambient, feeling of gratitude I carry each day likely comes from.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owner of The Peaceful Place, LLC, a psychotherapy and holistic health private practice in Decatur, GA. In addition to managing all the ins and outs of the business side of the practice, I provide psychotherapy for clients navigating stress, recovering from psychological trauma, and striving to find balance in their identity. I have a special focus in working with men, helping them lean into the complicated areas of masculine identity. It’s been amazing to join these men as they practice leaning into the vulnerable places we’ve been programmed to avoid and defend against with perfectionism, stoicism, criticism, and shame.
Additionally, I offer mindfulness and meditation instruction, as well as Mindful Outdoor Experiences and Retreats. As a Certified Mindful Outdoor Guide, I have the privilege of guiding folks into forested areas to mindfully connect with nature and life beyond self, all while reconnecting with self in a meaningful and deeply impactful way.
I recently launched a new endeavour called MANLĒ (Manifesting a New Lived Experience). This is an online and in-person community where men have a safe place to be curious about masculinities, while moving beyond dated and limiting attributes of traditional masculinity. We ask questions, share experiences, challenge status quo, find independent and collective meaning in identity, and connect with each other and people around us in healthy ways, all without the need for guards or avoidance, because it is a place for curiosity, not shame. Basically, we accept that we are human, first, then explore ways to improve self and community. MANLĒ is still live, but still in its infancy of production. Members will have access to online courses and workshops, Mindful Outdoor Retreats, Conscious Writings, helpful articles and resources from experts and other members, guided meditations, and more.
My journey toward this work is long, complex, and fulfilling. The values I learned from my parents and family of origin primed me to be empathic and passionate toward my beliefs. My parents’ divorce, and eventually my own, deepened my understanding of how complex people and relationships are.
In my early adulthood, I was introduced to mindfulness by a mentor graduate school professor. This introduction was an initial spark in a long burning and exciting fire. Growing up in the country probably embed in me a deep knowing and passion for nature and life beyond my understanding of self.
Meeting my wife Megan, and spending the better part of the last decade with her, has truly been the best adventure, yet. She inspires me and encourages me to pursue my dreams. I do the same for her. When our minds are in sync, we take creativity to the next level. I’ve sincerely been amazed by some of what we’ve come up with, as we both meld our creative nature with desire to make a positive impact in this world. Coming home to Megan and our three dogs makes each day end on a high. I can’t tell anyone about myself without mentioning my dog Baylee. He’s featured in one of the photos, and is truly the best friend I could ever ask for. He’s also a damn good work buddy on days I have virtual sessions from home. I’ve learned so much about emotional regulation, support, unconditional love, and the best of companionship from this amazing spirit.
As I’ve grown in my personal journey, so too have I grown professionally. I am grateful everyday, seriously everyday, for bringing my vision to fruition in the ways I, and my colleagues in The Peaceful Place, help folks in need. It’s not necessary to love what one does for a living, but it sure does help. This journey keeps going as Megan and I prepare to welcome our first child this year. Approaching 40 may be late in the game to have a first child for some, but I can’t think of a better time than now.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
That I could, and needed to, do everything on my own; that my success would come only from me and my efforts. I’ve had many experiences in my life where I felt alone or lonely, in carrying a burden. Whether the people around me were consumed with their own issues, or simply oblivious to mine, I learned through conditioning and fear of failure that it was best if I just go at things alone. This was further reinforced when I’d get all the praise for the work I did. As this experience became my reality, so did the growth of an unhealthy perception of perfectionism. I became hard on myself, and then others, as my unrealistic expectations for self spilled into expectations and demands for others. I would resent folks for not doing what I thought was bare minimum.
As I’ve grown and my lived experience has deepened, I realize that very little is accomplished truly independent of anyone else. Where I am today has been influenced by so many people; some helpful and positive, others helpful in knowing what I don’t want. An ambitious and self-conscious part of me still wants to steal the show from time to time, when I bite off more than I can chew by myself, but I suspect I will forever be learning how to recognize my need for help, as well as how to ask for it.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
Treating people as human beings rather than problems to be fixed. The core principles in our practice are mindfulness, balance, and connection. We approach each other, ourselves, and our clients with curiosity and awareness in the here and now. We remain conscious of shame, judgment, and unrealistic expectations, and do our best to guide our clients on a path that is best for them, not just because the professional says so, but also because the client believes this path fits into their life. At the core of all human experience in connection, whether interpersonal or spiritual, we are connected beings. I intentionally curated providers in this practice who operate from a person-centered approach, meaning we accept people as human beings with many and, sometimes complex, parts. Our job isn’t to fix anyone or even their problems. Instead, we use our training and the therapeutic relationship to help clients build upon their strengths to help themselves. I’m not suggesting this is the only approach to healing, but it’s the approach I hold sacred for my practice, and expect from all of my colleagues who work with me.
- Website: www.thepeacefulplaceLLc.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/mindfully_patrick
- Facebook: facebook.com/thepeacefulplacedecatur
Patrick Bryant, Megan Bryant, David Orozco