To most men, “men’s work” means such things as 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 also have been taught that the term “be a man” means to always have your guard up, don’t show any emotions except anger, and never appear vulnerable.
This style of thinking has evolved over the years. Hollywood’s 50’s and 60’s tough guys have morphed into slightly more multi-dimensional characters. But the core message remains: real men still don’t eat quiche.
Our society and culture often 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?
This has resulted in generations of men out of touch with their feelings and their power with no way to articulate why they are frustrated and drifting through life.
One way for men to reconnect with themselves and increase their focus is to form a regular meeting circle with other men. The size of the group works well at anywhere from 5 to 16 men. The group should be large enough to shift the focus off the individual but not too have too many members thus prohibiting each man from getting to speak regularly.
In order for most men to be comfortable enough to discuss issues that previously have been off limits, the right environment must be created.
One of the first ways to do this is to set up firm ground rules around how the group interacts. Certain upfront agreements are crucial to building the trust necessary to go to a deeper level of communication.
The first rule is no talking over, or cutting someone off, when they are speaking. Notice how common this is the next time you are in a group of men. It is the main form of communication in bars, golf courses and workplaces. 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 also must 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 aspect of a highly functioning men’s group is avoiding trying to “fix” the person 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 feel, know what they want, and reclaim their power. And, if they want, they even can feel free to eat quiche.