How to Be a “Real Man”
Hint: You can’t do it alone
To most men, “men’s work” means things like going to a job and achieving success, providing for a family, building a deck off the back of the house, and helping out in the community. We’ve been taught that to be a “real man” requires always keeping your guard up, not showing any emotions other than anger, and never appearing vulnerable.
This style of thinking has evolved over the years, transforming Hollywood’s tough guys of the 50s and 60s into slightly more multi-dimensional characters. But the core message still remains: real men don’t eat quiche.
Our society and culture is one that oftentimes does not encourage men to ever stop and feel, to look inside themselves and ask the questions:
What do I want?
Do my needs matter?
What is my purpose?
How can I feel empowered in my romantic relationship and in my job?
By ignoring these questions and failing to look inside, generations of men are out of touch with their feelings and power with no way to articulate why they are frustrated or drifting through life.
Reconnect with your life
One way for men to reconnect with themselves and increase their focus is to form a regular meeting circle with other men. The optimal size for a men’s circle is a group of 5 to 16 men. The group should be large enough to shift the focus off the individual, but not so large that there are too many members, prohibiting each man from getting equal opportunity to speak regularly.
For most men to be comfortable enough to discuss issues that previously have been off limits, it is important that the right environment is created.
One of the best ways to do this is to set up firm ground rules about how the group interacts. Certain upfront agreements are crucial to building the trust necessary to establish a deeper level of communication.
The first rule is no talking over or interrupting someone while they are speaking. Next time you are in a group of men, take notice of how common this practice is. It is the main form of communication in bars, golf courses and workplaces, and its absence in a men’s group encourages a free flow of authentic feelings to surface, which starts the process of reconnecting to our power.
All men must also agree that all things talked about in the circle are confidential. When this trust is established, the men are much more likely to go deeper into themselves.
Another important aspect of an effective men’s group is avoiding trying to “fix” the man or his problem. Rather, evoke from him the truth that he already knows but is feeling blocked from being able to do anything about. This is done by asking questions or offering new perspectives on the issue.
In time, these techniques create a supportive, non-judgmental setting. It becomes a place where real breakthroughs can happen and men can feel what they truly feel, know what they want, and reclaim their power. And, if they want, they can even feel free to eat quiche.
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Tom Kelley is a dedicated coach and mentor with 4 levels of certification as a Compassionate Integration Counselor and a Health Coaching certification with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He leads a variety of programs including Men’s Awareness and Alternatives to Violence workshops for prison inmates, as well as men’s workshops in the New York metro area. Tom is a pioneer in the field of what’s possible for men today. Follow him on Twitter @OpenDeepTrue, on Facebook facebook.com/OpenDeepAndTrue or his blog OpenDeepAndTrue.com