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What Is Engaged Indifference?

Episode #830

In this episode, Doug Holt and Brad Holt dive into the concept of “engaged indifference.” Learn how staying emotionally grounded while remaining present can transform your relationship.

Doug shares personal stories and practical strategies for becoming the unwavering lighthouse in your marriage, ensuring your wife feels emotionally safe, even during conflicts.

Join us as we explore how to break free from defensive reactions and create a space where genuine communication and connection can flourish. Whether you’re facing frequent disagreements or simply want to deepen your bond, this episode offers valuable insights to help you lead with confidence and compassion.

Tune in to discover how you can practice engaged indifference to foster a resilient and loving marriage.

Hungry for more?

Head over to our BONUS page for special access to some of the deeper tactics and techniques we’ve developed at The Powerful Man.

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Doug Holt  0:00  

Your wife cannot trust you to be safe. If you are reacting if you’re defending, excusing, explaining all the time that Nalagarh is to a lighthouse going out, I cannot trust this lighthouse to be on to save me she was saying to me like you are the lighthouse that goes out and goes on when it’s convenient, or I learned to practice engaged in difference. I became the lighthouse that stays on all the time. Regardless of the storm, I am engaged, but indifferent of the outcome or indifferent of your reaction.

Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of the TPM show. And once again, I am joined by my brother and our CEO, Brad Holt. Brad, thanks for being here, man.

Brad Holt  0:50  

It’s awesome, man. Glad to be here.

Doug Holt  0:52  

Yeah, it’s great having you here because you know, well, for a lot of reasons. One is you get to see my kids, my wife spent some time then you and I get to brainstorm. And we get to look at all the parts of the movement that we call TPM, and what’s going on with that. And it’s fun because we get excited, lots of jokes, little laughter, banter going through, we also get to do multiple podcasts and shows like this where we can do one and, you know, come back and do another no secret that we do these back to back often and look at topics. But this one came up and you were talking about how Colton who actually does all the video editing for this mentioned that a lot of men mentioned to him that they want to understand and engage in difference a lot more and engaged in difference. Really, I’ll tell you what it means to me and why we put into the program. Engaged in difference means I am engaged, but indifferent of the outcome or indifferent of your reaction. Right now. It’s not like I’m closed down or anything I’m not stoic or stonewalling. I’m engaged. I’m here. I’m present. I’m listening, listening to what you have to say. But I’m not going to react to the words you say if there’s an attack, or if you throw a backhanded compliment, or whatever else it is, I don’t react to it. Because I’m indifferent to your outcome.

Brad Holt  2:08  

I love that. Because when you’re communicating with, there’s the pre, if I’m in a bad place, I worry about it. Oh, what’s gonna happen? If I say this to Doug, he’s gonna be triggered. Yeah, there’s been there, what you just said is engaging. Yep. But the key is, if I really am present and grounded, and I’m getting things from inside, I don’t get the outside to affect me, meaning I can be a lighthouse, as we always say, meaning I’m there. The reason that’s so important I find is that is on the sea if you and I get in a disagreement as brothers, we’ve never had a disagreement.

Doug Holt  2:49  

Well, as long as you agree, I’m right, we’re good.

Brad Holt  2:53  

Is it good that we get it out? But it’s really almost the most important part is the after, if I didn’t use engage the difference if I was actually getting validation of my value from how you felt about me because it does hurt. If you don’t like me, you’re mad. But if I just go walk away and pout, then you’re trying to figure out, oh, how do I fix this now we actually go different directions. But if I am truly engaged in different, I’m a lighthouse. And when we’re talking to get upset the next day, I’m okay. And then that creates a safe space and creates an opportunity for both of us to continue communicating in a real is a big difference with my kids. It’s a really big use of my wife and then work too is that okay? We didn’t agree. But he came back. He’s the same guy. There’s no hidden agenda. They now know that okay, they let their guard back down, we can have some continued communication otherwise, people get really separated quickly. Yeah,

Doug Holt  3:50  

they do. And then when I think of engaging in difference, the way that we apply it is well within the TPM ecosystem, if you will, it’s really the antidote to being a DEER. Right? So DEERv is an acronym we use, which is defend, excuse, explain, and react. So when I’m in conflict with my wife, or with anybody in business, or whatever else it may be, I’m going to use my wife, Erin, who has been on the show, as the example. So if I’m in conflict, or I’m just nervous around her back, or I’m just trying to be the nice guy, and I say something to her, or I want maybe here’s a scenario I’m gonna set because it’s hard for me now because Aaron and I are such a great place. It’s almost hard for me to remember and go back to the way a lot of guys are right now. But I had a guy who’s talking to you right now. And he’s, he’s, he and his wife had been such a hard place. He’s been rejected so many times by his advances on her. He doesn’t want to he doesn’t want to ask her out. They’re married. He doesn’t want to ask her out though, because you know what, she’s gonna reject them. So he’s already talked about the pre the pre-the-voice coming in. So what he could do, I’ll call this guy Jared, right, Jared 1.0. And then I’ll tell you what Jared 2.0 can do and how engaged in difference links the two J 1.0. might say, Hey, babe, do you want to go out tonight and his wife goes, I’m just tired, right? He could react, well, we never go out. We never do anything. You don’t want to hang out with me. You want to spend time with me. And that’s just needy energy. And to your point, he’s seeking external validation. And he’s basically making up a story of whatever she says means he’s not good enough. All those things. Now, Jared 2.0 shows up to that same conversation engaged in difference. He doesn’t go into DEER mode, he doesn’t react, right? And so he goes, Hey, babe, do you want to go out tonight? And she says, Ah, I’m pretty tired. He sits there and goes, okay. You must be tired, tired from work? Now you can have a conversation, and she can talk more. 

Now they get into dialogue. Who knows what that dialogue can be? That dialogue could lead to intimacy, she might say, why don’t we stay in tonight and be together? Why don’t we go out tomorrow night? Or as she’s talking and loading or berries, as we say, she may get the energy and want to go out because now her husband or man’s actually listening to her, he now becomes more interesting. Engaged in difference allows the man to be that lighthouse. Right? And so for guys that we haven’t talked about the lighthouse in quite a while Brad. So the lighthouse to me, like there’s a ship out at sea, I’m going to tell the longer version of the story because I’m told in a while, you get to sit there and listen. It’s funny to watch, you just nod your head. Imagine a ship out to see and I picture the New England coast, right, really rough seas that are out there rocks everywhere. Imagine a storm rolls in and it gets dark at night. The ship is out there. And the storm hits. I mean, I’m talking 30-foot swells thunder, lightning, and everything. And the ship’s captain goes, if we stay out here we are going to sink we need to get into shore. However, there are rocks everywhere, right? And as that ship’s captain is going, it sees a lighthouse in the distance it goes finally to Safe Harbor, right? So the ship’s captain steers the boat towards that lighthouse and it’s full throttle, I need to get into that lighthouse for safety. But as the ship’s captain gets closer in the storm still coming down, the lighthouse goes out. He’s like what would I do, there’s rocks everywhere. They have to go back out to see if the light comes back on. Goes back towards the lighthouse again, going and finally I’m gonna make it otherwise I was gonna die out here. And then the lighthouse goes out. And the ship’s captain has to make a decision I have to go back out to sea. Go down shore because I cannot trust this lighthouse to be on to save me. Now in that analogy, as you know, Brad, the ship out there’s your wife, or it could be somebody else but this analogy will say it’s your wife. She’s looking for Safe Harbor safety. You as the man are the lighthouse. If you are reacting if you’re defending excusing, explaining all the time that is now a guess to a lighthouse going out. We react we’re not grounded. We’re not solid. Your wife cannot trust you to be safe. So many men and I heard this from Aaron. 

But a long long time ago. So many men hear from their wives well I don’t feel safe. And guys had the same reaction I have I was like I’m a big guy. I’m tough. I box jujitsu you’re safe. I never never pushed you never laid a hand on you. Like I can’t believe you say you’re not safe around me. My voice was saying like physical safety I can protect you. Why are you saying this? She was talking about emotional safety. And that again, what she was saying to me is like you are the lighthouse that goes out and goes on when it’s convenient goes on when it’s easy goes on when you’re not pissed at me. Right are reacting because I was in that relationship at that time DEER right everywhere else. I was the WOLF but I came home put my kryptonite on that doorknob. When I went into the house. It was like DEER mode. And so that happens now I learned to practice engaged in difference. I became the lighthouse that stays on all the time. Regardless of the storm, a storm crashed against me being my wife storm of whatever she was thrown at me. When I stay engaged in difference. She can melt into me because I was engaged with her. I didn’t just shut down which was my old tactic just okay, I’ll just close down better than yelling. Now. I stayed engaged but indifferent to what she was saying. So therefore I didn’t react right away or any of those other things that men do. Then she could just melt into me because she now could trust me to be stable.

Brad Holt  9:25  

I know that because that’s such a trigger word safe and stuff like that. And I think a lot of the guys dear defensive that’s obvious I’m not doing that. React. I’m not making that excuses. But we explain let me give you an end we just want to rationalize things. We just try to solve the problem justification

Doug Holt  9:45  

right? Yep. I justify my actions, Mom, right? And that’s what you’re doing when you’re DEER mode you turn your wife your lover into your mother. Right? And how unsexy is that? Right? Your wife doesn’t want to be Your mother, she wants to be your lover. And when guys go into DEER mode again, I did this right. Took me a while I didn’t have TPM around to teach me the methodologies. So I had a lot of trial and error, more error than trial going through it. But you get to learn that and I would justify things. So could be something like, Why didn’t you pick up your clothes in the room? Well, you know, I don’t need to pick up my clothes in the room. Today. I happen to do laundry on Saturday, and I go into this long justification of my actions, and proving that I’m right. I am so right. Rather than being engaged in different in this conversation, and listening to her trying to figure out what is she really complaining about? Is it really the clothes? If she just wanted my attention? Things like that. I mean, nowadays, all these pull my wife and jokingly Oh, babe, do you need attention? Or do you need my attention right now? And sometimes she’ll she’ll jump back and hit me or? Or she’ll potential Yeah, I just need you. So I treat her that way. It gives us the chance and the opportunities to take these kinds of things that used to be triggering things when I’m engaged in a different now gives us the opportunity of having communication being intimate and taking things to the other side. Where arguments that used to take two weeks last literally minutes if tops. Yeah,

Brad Holt  11:17  

the word indifferent I think confuses the the guy sometimes is that indifferent isn’t we don’t care. Indifference means other possibilities. Like you engage. And we have so many stories. So when I deal with the guys, a lot of times I go, would you treat me that way? If I invited you to a baseball game, hey, let’s go see the Dodgers games. I’m from Southern California. And you said no, what I go, Oh, I would just call somebody else. Yeah, right. Go. Yeah. Or I’d ask you more questions. Yeah, that’s the lighthouse is like, okay, but because we have these stories and these relationships, we just kind of like, oh, they said no, because of, but maybe it was just like you said earlier. I don’t want to go because I really want to have a romantic evening with you. Yeah. Or hey, I just want to just be quiet together. And that’s just the possibility. So

Doug Holt  12:06  

are the Dodgers suck? Could be a lot of reasons. We’re going

Brad Holt  12:09  

into fantasyland now. Yeah. Engaging gives you all the possibilities. Yeah, differences is not reacting. Because if you I want to go the Dodger game, I just go anyway, yep. If I want to go to the fair with my wife, and I really want to go, I tell the guys to go, my wife doesn’t want to go that’s cool. Or ask her why. Or she might in a lot of times as well, I really want to go next Monday. But we’ve already stopped in when the DEER mode and all the possibilities are ended. When give them a little space. You’d never know what’s gonna happen if you don’t engage.

Doug Holt  12:45  

Yeah, with you that indifference can be challenging for some guys. And again, it’s not stoicism. I use stoicism as an example for guys to wrap their head around it, you know, I’m saying like, they kind of understand what that means. But you’re still engaged. You’re just indifferent to their reaction. Yeah. And the outcome of the conversation like expectations could be one way so Dodger game, we’ll use that as an example again, you ask someone to go the Dodger game? Yes. No, your expectation is yes. If they say no, then your expectations are lost. And as upset when you react. Now she gets defensive and upset. She reacts then you react more and then it becomes this like Alpha thing, where you guys are going back and forth fighting until you both just walk away or close down. And then man, I mean, that used to last literally weeks some bullheaded weeks that I’d be pissed at my wife, and we had no intimacy, no great conversations, I wouldn’t even want to come home right when he want to come through the door like a man only want to go home. to fast forward to now using engage the difference. You know, I’m super close. In fact, before coming here, my wife and I were sitting on the couch or I was actually down working out in our basement. My wife kept deck coming down and sat on the chair and just started saying, hey, I want to talk how was your day? How was last night? How would you guys do? And she wanted to know about my world. Because we’re so connected. Yeah. And you know, gosh, 10 years ago, Brad, same situation. I would have never seen her like you know, because we would probably had a fight at some point. She’d be like, Screw him. I’m gonna screw her to stay away from each other and say hi we got a cup of coffee as we walked by, and it was horrible.

Brad Holt  14:26  

Reminds me I like that intimacy thing you and Aaron did you did a masterclass a while ago shit test to seduction is that’s how you would treat another guy. I’m a Gen XOR. So I talk smack. And when you’re in a good place, engage and they give you crap. You just kind of talk smack back and a lot of times they find that very adorable. That’s what attracted us in the first place. Yes.

Doug Holt  14:49  

Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t use the word adorable, but they let my wife say It’s sexy. Yeah, because you’re confident. You’re right. You’re confident.

Brad Holt  14:57  

You’re adorable too. Thanks, buddy. But

Doug Holt  15:01  

and it’s the confidence and the playful energy, you know, and you’re bringing them into your playful, masculine energy and they love it women melt when you can do that, if you can go, you know, into the pickup scene with a coach that really helps the guys with pickup, if you will, dating women and etc. But that’s the whole thing they teach these single guys is to kind of be this cocky, funny guy that’s out there. But most men are naturally that guy when they’re in their natural state. And there’s when they get scared of the wife or mad at their wife, it comes across as really mean sarcasm. Yeah. And it’s biting the tent behind it some biting because they might be engaged, but they sure as heck aren’t indifferent to the outcome, and they’re trying to throw little daggers. And that’s like, the worst poison you can do for a woman for anybody for that matter.

Brad Holt  15:49  

I mean, if that whole safety thing you talked about earlier, if the wife can make the man shrivel. Let me that doesn’t feel very good equals someone else much bigger, stronger, powerful, and confident. What’s gonna happen, then, that just gets an even bigger gap? Oh,

Doug Holt  16:09  

what’s my wife gonna say? Right? If, she’s talking to her girlfriends? And she’s like, Yeah, my husband can’t stand up to me. I can crush my husband, how is he going to protect me from the neighbor or the guy down the street? If she knows that she’s 130 pounds. And you know, the guy down the streets to 30. Right? If she can crush you, you know, get you to react or get you to tip over as one of my guys always says, then you know, the guy that down the street who’s 230 is going to crush you easily. You’re not safe. You’re not a protector anymore. Does no protector provider know your assignments?

Brad Holt  16:45  

How many times do you think a woman tests a man just to see if they would just react to step up to being the man

Doug Holt  16:55  

all the time? I think it depends on the relationship. But I think it happens all the time. I think when men are more consistently showing up as the powerful men inside of themselves, the lighthouse, if you will, happens less frequently, but still happens. But also, interestingly say that what comes up for me is when the men that go through the movement that are that are consistent, the guys that are consistent. When they get tested, they don’t even know they’re being tested because they act so naturally. To Test your point they throw something back or do you want to go to the Dodger game? Nope. Cool. I’m going out. So yeah, they, it doesn’t it just doesn’t occur the same way. So when Aaron tests me, it just rolls off my back like nothing, right? And every once in a while, I get caught up, right? But it’s so rare. It’s just because they’re being you being engaged in difference. And being in that state becomes a natural state of who you are.

Brad Holt  17:51  

Even with guys,

Doug Holt  17:53  

if I know that I can tell my truth, and sometimes drinking or just emotional, I say the wrong thing to know that I can come back. That’s a huge deal in any relationship. Yeah, well, you can clean up Yeah, being comfortable, means that totally side chains. But you and I were talking about one of the guys that’s within the movement, that helps us and we’re talking about how everybody likes this guy. I mean, everybody likes him one. He’s a great guy, naturally, too hard worker. But one of the things I think is magnetic about him is he knows who he is as a man, and he is unapologetically him. And even as a guy, it’s an attractive thing, not a sexually attractive thing. But I’m attracted to his energy and to that vibe that he gives off. And that’s super cool. And that’s where we teach the men through The Activation Method. It’s a methodology to help you get back there. And then we reset the Alpha through the Alpha Reset.

Brad Holt  18:50  

I love that it is incredibly attractive when you see someone who is really centered. Because it’s someone you aspire to be because we know we’re not sometimes and that person was just themselves. That’s a person, I really want to connect with. Thanks, buddy.

Doug Holt  19:10  

You know why you’re here. But with engaged Yeah. And I wanted to go back to this because I’m thinking of the guys listening to this who may have not heard the concept before I talk about in the book, right, the book on How to Save Your Marriage Man’s Guide to How to Save Your Marriage Without Talking About It. You can grab it and Amazon’s as cheap as you possibly get a book. We’re not selling it for profit. We’re out there just to give the information out guys. So if you head over to Amazon, you can Google Doug Holt or How to Save Your Marriage Without Talking About It. It’s all there. So I break down engaged in differences in that book. And the key principle that I want men to walk away from Brad here from listening to this is not react to actually change that. What I want you guys to think about is don’t get caught up in the outcome. Don’t get caught up in the outcome. come with a conversation. Think of yourself more like a journalist. When you come in there journalists typically is asking questions, but it puts their opinion to the side off the table, if you will, and just gathers the information and nods like you’re doing to me right now. And looks and don’t you don’t believe in your hands as much today? And just but not but they they take in the info and it’s almost like they’re, they’re unbiased, if you will. I want you to be the journalist be inquisitive and have fun. And rather than reacting,

Brad Holt  20:32  

I love that I use childlike curiosity because I love it. And the anthropologists like discovering. And if we come with that, it’s because there’s so much depth like, things we didn’t know. And this really does if you’re dealing with business leaders. This is a great way to be a leader. Yes. With your teams engaged in differences. Engage them by pulling information, being curious.

Doug Holt  20:54  

Yeah. Well, here’s another tangent, because you and I love to go down tangents. But, man, I gotta tell you, like when I when every guy coach, right? It’s like, how long have you been married? 10 years, 20 years, six years, whatever it is. I’m like, hey, what books did your wife read? They don’t know, what she is into. They don’t know, to a deep level enough some of the stuff. And like, the problem is, and this goes for business leadership, too, with your staff and your team. We get pigeonholed and think that the person that we married is the same person we are today. Right? And I was talking to a guy Brad, and I’ll tie this into engaging in different somehow, but I’m telling a story anyway. I was talking to a guy. And he was talking to me about his wife and I could tell that he and he’d been married for I think 13 years or so. He was talking about her when they got married. Like she used to be this way. She used to do that. All the things. I said, What books does she read? It’s like, I just read. It’s like, I don’t I don’t know. I don’t know, she’s reading. So I got headphones in. She listened to music, what music she listened to. Didn’t know. Is all these things he just didn’t know about her. And I was talking to him. I go ha It’s interesting. Okay. I know you guys got married. What? How old? Okay. Oh, are 23 Okay, got it? Would you let that version of yourself run your business right now? No way, man. Oh, my gosh, I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. Okay. Okay. So would you let that version of yourself sleep in bed with your wife and raise your kids? No way, you know, oh, my gosh, I was, you know, out of control, whatever it was. So why do you think your wife or your co-workers or your employees, your staff are the same people 13 years ago, or five years ago, one year ago, that they are today? And so your childlike curiosity brought that in my head is you engaged in difference? Find out who they are to Dang. Right. People changed. Gosh, I hope you guys are changing, right? I hope you are. Because if you’re staying stagnant, you’re dying, right? And that’s where courses and education or listening to shows like this are really helpful. But you have to have that curiosity and get into that person’s world to realize who they are today, versus 13 years ago, and this example.

Brad Holt  22:58  

I love that because sometimes the guys will ask me, Well, how do I talk to them? What do I say? I go ask questions. Well, they give me short answers. I don’t know what to ask you. Just like a client. Do some research. Yeah, figure out her habits, figure out her hobbies, reminisce about family. Really ask good questions, so you can engage and get the conversation going. Yeah, like,

Doug Holt  23:21  

hey, what books have you read lately? It doesn’t have to be complicated. I think guys are just so out of it. We’ll put this in the show notes, guys. But we have a guide on how to do the perfect date night. And then there I have 20 icebreaker questions. And you guys just it’s free. It’s a free PDF, ebook, or whatever you want to call it we put together it’s valuable because we wrote it. But it’s got those 20 icebreaker questions. Even if you just downloaded it and took those 20 questions awesome. Do that. We’ll get we’ll put the link into the description below wherever you’re getting this. And that is a great start and makes it feel natural. And if you can’t make it feel natural, read them. Right. There are also cards you can buy. Like, you know, you and I both have the questions, right? Table Topics. Yeah, I’ve got about six other ones Moe who we work with sent me a box of cards which are awesome. Thanks again, MO. Always love giving gifts, but she sent me a very thoughtful gift. And in that gift was a book of questions for relationships. Right? So Aaron and I can ask these questions which we have, and it brings us closer. And sometimes these questions can be silly or sometimes they might know the answer. But what it can do a spark another question. And the worst-case scenario, if it’s a silly question, you laugh. That’s not a bad worst-case scenario for most marriages.

Brad Holt  24:38  

I love the Table Topics idea. I’m always shocked with friends, my wife, my parents, or you might say, and I think I know the answer. And all sudden you hear something totally different. And that’s what it’s all about communication asking a question, regardless of what they say. You just engage but you’re indifferent. You’re not right. reacting to it. Yeah,

Doug Holt  25:01  

I can tell you birthday after birthday, everybody thinks my favorite dessert is the same dessert, it’s been forever changed. But when they serve it, I’ll smile and play it off. But you know, your favorite dessert changes over the lifetime of your favorite meal. If I say, What’s the last meal you’re gonna have on a desert island, it’s probably gonna change from when you were 21 to 41, or whatever. But people change all areas of life. So be inquisitive. And that’s a great way to practice and engage in difference.

Brad Holt  25:28  

I love that man. And as I reflect on this, guys when we had a family event, one of the spouses said something, and the husband was very surprised. And she candidly said, Well, if I said it to you directly, I was afraid you’d react to me, this is a safe space because I have witnesses. And that person felt terrible. And guys, if we don’t provide that safety, that lighthouse you described earlier, they’re not going to share until we get into it. I do marriage counseling with my wife, not marriage, kind of a good marriage conference all the time. And it gives her an environment. And I’m always a little bit surprised that she’ll bring up some topics and it shows that Oh, I haven’t provided that space for my wife to tell me directly. She waited to hear to share and it just shows how we kind of all need to continually improve.

Doug Holt  26:18  

Love it. Love it. Well, thanks again for being here. Man. I really appreciate all that you bring to the guys into the movement. Love it, man. Thanks for letting me be here. You got it? Well, gentlemen, as we always say in the moment and insight, take massive action, go to Amazon and whatever else, and get table topics or something like that. But if anything, grab the free ebook on the perfect date night you should be dating your wife regularly as is, but at least get those icebreaker questions. There’ll be the link in the show notes. And if you’re interested in finding more about The Activation Method, there’ll be a link down there as well for you guys. Take care remember we’re always in your corner.