Is this a good time to be a man? Some would say no. With new work demands, and new family demands, men feel pulled in so many different directions.
With these changes in men’s roles, there is the subtler change in how men are evolving internally. This inner evolution is a reflection of the transformation occurring outwardly. This inner chaos comes from men’s struggle with defining who we are. For centuries we have been the workers, soldiers, and grunts plowing the fields, the bodies sacrificing on the battlefields and the laborers pouring the molten steel in the plants. Our lives have gotten much more cerebral in the last century.
Shedding our roles
Women have traditionally been the primary parent, but often Dad was just out in the field, or downstairs running the shop. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution men were home less.
But now, men want to be more active co-parents again. As good as this is, men need to shed their trained role of what it is to be a man. That is stressful! What makes it more stressful is it is subtle and there is no one external stressor we can attribute our turmoil to.
There is no place to turn to understand this mess. Our fathers suffered through their position with no conscious awareness of it. Our friends are as lost as we are. Our partners are women who just got their power and voice as they broke away from many of their old bonds. Their new found freedom is still fresh for them.
All this leaves us men to solve this on our own. It is true we like to solve difficult problems. The challenge here is that solving this dilemma will involve skills we have yet to develop. Some of these skills, such as empathy and emotional communication, might be skills innately stronger in women. Yet they are skills that need to be stronger for men if we are to solve this problem.
We have the ability to create a vision of what is needed, and to do it. It comes from us being the hunters of the hunters-gathers. We can stalk our prey until we out-run them and kill them. Today we need to become clear on what is needed and what we want.
What is not needed is escape into the Internet, media and porn, as we are seeing with many boys and young men.
Band of Brothers
As men we need to get sober to our needs. Then we need to form bands to hunt down our prey – what is limiting us and remove it. More importantly, we need to support our brothers in developing into the men our fathers were not, and whom we have yet to be. There is no one else who is going to save us. There are no institutions that care. The media wants to sell to us, not help us. Women will support us, but they aren’t men, so they don’t know how to raise us to be men.
Applying all the stress reduction techniques written about in this blog will help lower our stress and allow us to focus better. But it will mean getting off our asses as we risking screwing up to take on new tasks in new ways that will teach us to be this new man, the new hero that is needed today.
After 35 years of working with men and women, I don’t know a cheaper, quicker and more sustainable way to “raise men” than to support men to run their own men’s groups. After years of running them myself and teaching other men to do the same, I have seen the magic that happens when a group of men get together: the whole of all the men in the group is greater than the sum of each man. The collective wisdom of the group processes what no man processes. That collective wisdom teaches models, draws out and supports each man to grow in the ways he needs to grow. The group is an incubator for each man’s evolution into his own manhood.
For the last few years I have blogged about men’s issues.. My new book, Grow Up, Guys: 9-Steps to Releasing the Remarkable Man Inside You will be published next year. To help manifest this change for men, I created Men Corps with two partners to teach men to start and lead their own powerful men’s groups.
Please share your thoughts and feelings about where men are at and need to go with other men. Check out the above sites. Start your own men’s group. Help yourself and other men to be remarkable.