What's up with men?
Men need a lot of help they aren't getting these days. A lot of them feel lost, confused, left out, and frustrated. In observing my own work and the work of many other men through the years, I've seen some common factors that feed the unhappy, unsettling pattern of feeling lost in one's own life as a man:
- Men are often mystified by and alienated from their own feelings.
- Men are often locked into a mechanical, utilitarian relationship with their own bodies.
- Men are often living lives severely at odds with their inner realities.
- Men are often disconnected from (if not downright scornful of) who they were, what they felt, and what once mattered to them as boys.
- Men are often living with highly edited versions of their own history, childhood, and family of origin.
- Men (even men with wives, families, and friends) are often feeling lonely and isolated, and don't know why or what to do about it.
There's no single, easy answer that addresses all of this in one fell swoop, and there's no requirement that any man address any of it. If your life is working and you're happy with it and with yourself, then that's great. But if you recognize yourself in any of the above, and particularly if that recognition is accompanied by some feeling of pain, emptiness, or longing, it might be time to have a closer look.
What can be done?
In my experience, there are three things a man can do to begin to address the assortment of factors listed above:
- Change his relationship with his body: Disconnection from the body leaves us estranged from our emotional energy (feelings) and lost in the mind.
- Maintain healthy connection with his emotional energy: We can't know what we're feeling if we're unaware of our own emotional energy.
- Maintain healthy connection with his authentic self: The roles we play and masks we wear can separate us from who we really are as men.
There's also a fourth: Every man should know his own story and be able to tell it honestly and faithfully, if to no one else but himself. Moreover, he should be able to tell that story in his own words and in his own way, not someone else's, and feel it as his own with whatever emotional energy (grief, anger, regret, joy, love, etc) resides within him for it, not as a detached third party watching someone else's movie.
What can be gained?
I believe that it is our birthright as men to have full and unfettered access, to whatever extent suits us as individuals, to:
- Our bodies and the knowledge within.
- Our emotional energy in all its variation and colour.
- Our authentic self independent of external expectations and demands.
- Our story in all its richness and feeling.
I also believe that all of these are within the reach of any man who's willing to move himself into some unfamiliar territory that will likely feel surprisingly like a forgotten homeland once the initial strangeness wears off.
Who can benefit most?
In my experience, moving into that unfamiliar territory, as I put it above, can be a life-improving, if not-life changing, experience for any man, but it can have particularly significant benefits for men who:
- Long to feel more authentic and present in their lives.
- Wish to connect with themselves and others more fully.
- Are struggling with persistent feelings of grief, anger, or sadness from an unresolved loss.
- Have experienced childhood abuse and trauma.
- Are Highly Sensitive (more on that topic in my article here).
The truth is that any man who chooses to explore this work, regardless of his situation or motivation, will find it beneficial, not only for himself, but for everyone around him in his life.
Masculinity from the inside out
The true source of his own authentic, uniquely individual masculinity is within each man. It is waiting for him in his mind, his heart, and his body. It speaks to him in his dreams, his daydreams, and his fantasies. The pathways that can lead him to it are ancient and well-traveled by his ancestors. It's a journey that has been taken countless times over countless centuries, but it begins anew with the life of every newborn boy who enters this world. Let's give each boy and each man the tools, the knowledge, the encouragement, and the freedom to take that journey in his own way, at his own pace. That is the one and only way that mature, healthy masculinity will truly manifest, express itself, and flourish in our world.
Rick Belden helps men who are feeling stuck get their lives moving again. Visit Rick's website at rickbeldencoaching.com to schedule a free one-hour discovery session with him so you can start moving in the direction of having what you want most in life.