Trapped by Categories


One of the cornerstones of Open Deep and True is coaching men in the art of opening to new possibilities. We are guiding men into living with a more fluid, expanded version of masculinity. Just as strong and competent as before, but with more freedom, choices, and connectedness.Why is there a need for this?

For a long time, men have been socialize to “know what you are doing” at all times. The cliche about never asking for directions is but one example. This eagerness to be convinced about things has actually trapped us in our thinking. But there is more to it than that. In the book Mindfulness by Ellen Langer, she illustrates one of the tricks our minds play on us that contributes to our rigid thinking.

She creates the following scenario:

Imagine that it”s two o’clock in the morning. Your doorbell rings; you get up, startled, and make your way downstairs. You open the door and see a man standing before your. He wears two diamond rings and a fur coat, and there is a Rolls Royce behind him. He is sorry to wake you at this ridiculous hour, he tells you, but he’s in the middle of a scavenger hunt. His ex- wife is in the same contest, which makes it very important to him that he win. He needs a piece of wood about three feet by seven feet. Can you help him? In order to make it worthwhile he” give you $10,000. You believe him, He’s obviously rich. And so you say to your self, how can I get this piece of wood for him? You think of the lumber yard; you don’t know who owns the lumberyard: in fact your not even sure where the lumberyard is. It would be closed at two in the morning anyway. You struggle but you can’t come up with anything. Reluctantly, you tell him, “Gee, I’m sorry.”

The next day, when passing a construction site near a friends house, you see a piece of wood that’s just about the right size, three feet by seven feet- a door. You could have just taken a door off it’ hinges and given it to him. For $10,000.

Why on earth, you say to yourself, didn’t it occur to you to do that? It didn’t occur to you because yesterday your door was not a piece of wood. the seven-by-three foot piece of wood was hidden from you, stuck in the category called “door”. This kind of mindlessness, which usually takes more humdrum forms-“Why didn’t I think of calling Susan? She can unclog sinks”- could be called “entrapment by category”.

So in an expanded masculinity with mindfulness, a “man” can meditate, or do yoga, or show his emotions….or ask for directions. The category of “man” doesn’t have to be limited. A door can be a $10,000 piece of wood. If we are OPEN to it.

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