Are you at a place where you aren’t getting what you want? Is your life falling apart or is it just stalled? Are you at a place you’ve been before? Is your relationship pushing back at you with a reoccurring problem?
My core mantra for my groups are – “take the man deeper.” We spend our lives observing, analyzing, and judging. Inherent in our culture, particularly for us men is the belief that if we understand it we can solve the problem. It is true we can affect it. How often has understanding resolved it? How often have your mental skills healed or transformed a reoccurring issue? Never for me.
You may have an old issue biting you in your ass as your old pattern of analyses takes you nowhere. If you do nothing differently, over time something will change… but you know it will come back again.
I propose a different strategy where you go deep, go into the cause – stop treating the symptoms. To do that you need help. I won’t say it is impossible to do it on your own. I have seen men, including myself, spend a long time to shifting the core of an issue. Approached this way, alone, it is a long time coming unless you have trained yourself to go deep. If you have that skill set you can use it to release the cause of your crisis. To have it you need to learn it. That usually means it is taught to you by others.
How to go deep
First of all, you learn it from those who have gone deep. You learn it from a man who traveled the road down to his dark night of the soul. That man learned to let his attachment to looking good, doing it right, and being good die. He didn’t allow his fear of change to prevent him from getting what he wanted. He was willing to let the parts of himself that were no longer serving him die. I want to emphasize serving because at one point the behavior you want to shift was what got you through a tough time. You needed it.
Once there is even the possibility of letting go, then you need to find a mentor to guide you. For some of us, it might be one person. For most of us it is a collective of people organized around a group or training. It is a place where you have ongoing support and accountability as you are trained to go deep.
For many men of my community it is our men’s groups. When I formed these groups six years ago I made a commitment to myself that we were going to go deep or I wasn’t going to have a group. I didn’t know if men would show up or stick with it. They did. They keep bringing their friends into the groups.
For others it might be an ongoing training. A friend of mine, Jayson Gaddis is organizing his third six month training. You might think that is a long time. I say that is a minimum. We all are well oiled at being slippery. We spent a life perfecting our coping mechanisms. I call them slippery because more often than not, we’re not even consciously avoiding confronting them. We’re just very good at letting them “slide.” It takes months to disassemble those structures and replace them with healthier and more effective behaviors.
For 25 years, the ManKind Project (MKP) has conducted their weekend trainings – the New Warrior Training Adventure. They call it an initiation. For many men it is an initiation into being the man they want to be. MKP discovered that regardless of how powerful the training was for a man, without ongoing support much of the change dissolves away. More than ever MKP is supporting their “Integration Groups” as their way to go deep after the opening gets created in the initial training.
I was arrogant. I thought I could do it alone. I got no place fast. I had to get honest with myself. What was more important – looking good, being right, knowing all the answers or having the life I wanted? With a little kicking and screaming I chose to make the leap. In hindsight I realized getting help in itself is the biggest single act of change, and courage.
When I work with men individually guiding them through this process I require a long term commitment. Without the commitment and a set of ground rules you don’t have a container. Without a container you won’t change. Some part of you won’t feel safe. There will be ways for you to escape (slide) back to your old patterns, ways to sabotage your process.
Don’t over analyze. Your head will not find the perfect mentor or group. Stop trying to figure it out. Look at the men who are in the group or went through it. Do they have something you want? If so, go for it. Do what it takes… sell your car, move, surrender. We are only talking about your life.
Going for it will be the best investment you could ever make. We have men in our groups that saved dying marriages, found their passion, prevented bankruptcy, and in one case saved his own life. My other statement I live by is: It takes a community to grow a man. Find your community, commit to them, dive in, go for it, let go and live.
What will it take for you to have the life you want? What are you willing to risk and invest to achieve that? If I can do it – you can! Your partner and family are worth it. You are worth it.