What is a man?
Do you know? You probably have an idea. Odds are, you’re either a man yourself, and/or you date one, live with one, or are married to one.
We might know what we expect of a man—someone who keeps his word, is open, and does the old provide and protect.
I certainly didn’t know how to achieve any of the definitions of what a man is–even the most narrow, limited definitions. But I knew enough to tell that what the media was telling me a man should be served them more than it served me. I knew the old models weren’t for me.
I learned that getting good at being sensitive was a step sideways as much as forward. Yes, I “got in touch with my feelings.” I did what my teachers taught me. I became emotionally receptive. Women began to trust me. I had a secret in with women. I was the guy they trusted.
Then I realized that I wasn’t really the guy they wanted. Why? I was pissed. I was doing everything they taught me, but it wasn’t the surefire hook I was lead to believe if would be for women. I felt trapped by my own games.
I also felt trapped in this version of being a man. I had a profession I enjoyed and succeeded at, yet I felt like an outsider to the club of men. There was no brotherhood in my life. I was alone—except for my girlfriends. I certainly wasn’t going to admit my isolation to any man. It would be admitting defeat.
Something had to change
Having success in some areas of my life… and frustration with what wasn’t working started me on a journey. I started looking at the previous, unthinkable act of going towards what I was afraid of: joining a men’s group.
I quickly realized that I wasn’t the exception; I was the norm. Every man felt inadequate at being a man. These were men who were leaders in their respective fields. They all felt like they fell short. None of them felt like they knew how to get what they wanted, nor did they feel they had a brotherhood of other men.
I wasn’t nuts. I was just a man in this culture. There was hope.
With a safe group of men to open up to, I found new strengths in myself. I spoke up in ways I never knew I could. I expressed emotions I never expressed. I set goals that I gave up on achieving. I went for it.
When I walked down the street, I noticed I could look men in the eye. I was able to say no when something didn’t feel right. And there was another unexpected benefit: women were more attracted to me. They weren’t looking at mothering me; they wanted to connect to my new masculine.
I learned more than I ever expected to. Now, after 15 years of sitting in and leading men’s groups, I know how to be MY OWN MAN. I know how to speak up in the face of challenge with my vulnerability. I know that other men are striving for the same desire to show up fully.
Sharing the wealth
As my work in men’s groups evolved, I began tweaking how we worked in the groups. There never a “should”–just support in taking a man deeper into his own experience. As my current group evolved, I began to see previously hidden patterns of how we sabotage ourselves, as well as untapped patterns of Masculine Emotional Intelligence.
For more information on our Free to Win Experience check out this page. If you’re feeling that isolation, that something is missing, please take some action. Find a men’s group, start your own (you can download free instructions at our nonprofit – Men Corps), start speaking to men about what you really feel and want. Do something you haven’t done. You aren’t alone.
Bonus: In this short recording from a recent weekend of the Free to Win Experience, I further explain a few of these patterns.