You don’t need to be an experience men’s group participant to appreciate the opportunity that challenge brings men. All you need to look at how to break out of your restraints is to be a man with a life that is not delivering what you want.
Like many of us, I was raised to be “nice”, to use Robert Glover’s term. I became good at pleasing and taking care of others; I defaulted to compliance. I became good at reading what others wanted before even they knew what they wanted. Just out of college, I came across a book on how to be a sensitive man. It became my bible. It also became how I perfected my act to attract women. It worked — women found me safe and accommodating.
Yet, I could not understand why women were attracted to the ‘bad boys’ who often mistreated them. I also did not understand why even when I did all that they told me they wanted, the passion did not last for either of us. My relationships would often die a slow death.
I began to piece together that what women said they wanted and what they really wanted were two different things. Both women and men are trained to believe that being emotionally open, empathic, and accepting is all that is needed to succeed in relationships and in life.
We were not shown the full picture.
If we are fortunate, we start with a nurturing mother. If our good fortune continues, we have a father who lovingly supports us to take on challenges and risk failure.
Men often come to this work believing that what they need is more nurturing to achieve their goal. Sure, we all need to be accepted. Yet, for most of us, what pushes us over the edge to attain and sustain what we need is the challenge — and often failing — as we push through to achieve.
I never had that loving challenge provided to me. Through trial and error, I began to realize that leaning into the resistance life gave me made me stronger. Healing and overcoming my Asperger’s, dyslexia, and ADHD taught me that challenges are necessary for growth. Suffering is not.
When I started the Sandpoint Men’s Group, I quickly realized that I had to change the orientation had by many other groups. Rather than be a support group or a group that confronted men, we needed a group that would lead and support men to take new actions AS they began to experience previously unfelt emotions.
In creating the Healing Journey, we invented a process that produces deep change that I have never seen occur with any other method. Men would go to new (or old) places that they had never imagined. The order of magnitude of change was not all that was needed – men needed to take that change out in the world. When they did, they had a new life.
We all want the magic pill, that one thing that will produce what we want. The few times I saw that occur, I discovered that the man had done a lot of work before the thing that seemed to produce the magical change.
When action is mindful — in other words, when we connect deeper to the experience as we risk and act — we release, heal, integrate, and own disconnected parts. Previously disconnected resources become integrated into our being.
Look at your action edge – what goal in his life requires action you are not currently performing? It could be a big goal, such as finding a new profession. It may be less about a huge change. For example, if I want to become a therapist, an action would be to find three schools I want to apply to.
It could be a smaller goal, such as spending more connective time with your wife. The intent is to slow down and feel as you act. It is also choosing a specific action for which you can be held accountable. You want the action to be SMART.
You can work on what holds you back from taking action that you know you need to take. Feel your fear as you unpack how you developed all your coping behaviors to not feel and act.
The goal is not to “heal” where you do not need to act. The goal is to see and receive support so you are more likely to feel and act. Failure will be an option. Some of my best healings and learnings were when I failed in achieving my goal because I focused more on the process and less on the outcome.