I tried to be a good student. I tried to remember the order of things and then execute that order – yet something would always go wrong.
I remember going to catechism, the Catholic religious training, and stressing out because I could not remember all the steps of First Communion. If you were not brought up as a Catholic — at least in the old Church — you do not know there were a series of precise actions you needed to perform. I would stand when I was supposed to kneel and kneel when I was supposed to stand.
The more I tried, the more I screwed up. I got the message that in order to be a good Catholic and a good person, I had to do these things correctly. I started believing I was going to Hell for screwing up. Sounds stupid now, but as a little kid, it made sense to me.
After giving up my pursuit of perfection, I began to step back from tasks to see that results and happiness often come from the relationship of the tasks. I noticed that in between the actions was the relationship of the actions, people, and other variables. I discovered that the relationship that wants to emerge made my life easier.
After a decade of traditional men’s groups, I stepped back to see that more than the trying to understand or control the parts — more than the ‘right order’ — there was a natural pattern. I had enough experience at that time to sense that a deep pattern was attempting to arise. With my years of frustration trying to do it right, I created a model and group that was more about exploring than getting it right.
I tested certain assumptions, such as if men feel safe, they will be vulnerable. Being vulnerable will lead to releasing past restrictions and deeper connections. At the time, I didn’t know of any hard science that backed up my theory. Sure, I had professional training that supported it in different ways, but going for vulnerability was not standard operating procedure.
After a couple of years, it was apparent that what Systems Theory told us held true for men’s groups. It corroborated that how the parts of a system interact matters most — not how they act independently. Working with the interdependency of related parts improves connection and relationships.
Giving men only one way to show up may work some of the time for some men. Invariably, it fails to deepen healing, connection, and relationships. The top-down approach is antithetical to biology and emotions. As men, we may wish that life’s aspects were linear, but they are not.
Being willing to exist in the chaos, fear, or excitement of related parts attempting to create a higher-order can be challenging. Not having a user manual that gives us step-by-step instructions is exciting.
What is a set of behaviors that you were told to perform as a kid? Maybe it works for you; maybe it doesn’t. It could be how you greet someone. Or it could be how you come on to a person to whom you are attracted.
When I was young, which was before the whole Pick Up Artist trainings, I read books on how to connect to and pick up women. It all made sense. As you can imagine, I failed miserably at it.
If you are unable to immediately come up with a learned behavior pattern, that’s okay.
Whose method are you using? Speak to what emotions and desires you were not feeling. What is this behavior giving you and not giving you? Unpack it.
Then, if you were to do it YOUR way, what would that be? What is at risk if you fail? What can you get from doing it your way?
Then, as a stretch, what can you do in a week that has you step out of your learned pattern to at least explore a new one?
EVRYMAN Open Source Event
For more than two years, because of covid, we have not done our premiere introductory men’s training. We are doing our Open Source at the top retreat center on the east coast – Kripalu. Our team of trainers and assistants will be there at this beautiful facility to support you in having a powerful weekend.
Men often ask me how I kick start a new life. After 25+ years of working with men, attending many men’s trainings, and leading them for us and others – the Open Source is the best out there. Yes, I am prejudiced.
Nevada City Men’s Group
After the recent success of leading and training a group here in Nevada City, I am starting another group. It begins on June 30. Our EVRYMAN groups are some of the most emotionally safe and fun places for men to be themselves. We get to be ourselves with other men who are authentic. For decades I’ve heard how these groups are way more powerful and enjoyable than expected. That is why the Sandpoint Men’s group I started 18 years ago has had over 400 men participate and currently grew to have four groups. These unique men’s groups are also why EVRYMAN took off.