“If we are in a culture that doesn’t value caring, doesn’t value relationships or empathy, you are going to have boys and girls, men and women go crazy.”
–Dr. Niobe Way, Psychologist and Educator
Have you seen The Mask You Live In? It’s a documentary that explores how Americans’ narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large. Boys learn to posture based on how other boys are posturing.
And it begs the question—if you’re wearing a mask everyday how can you ever access the pain and anger sequestered deep inside you? Those emotions can lay dormant for years, festering and growing larger. In turn, they’re more likely to act out and mimic aggression. We typically don’t view this as depression; instead labeling it as a misconduct disorder or simply a “bad kid.”
Recently, I’ve been working with young men who have been struggling with addiction. In their attempt to heal, we seem to keep circling around back to the young boy inside, the little guy that had to cleave off and become tough in order to survive. The sensitive nature they’re born into was overtaken with a suit of armor after being told by dad to “walk like a man.” Or perhaps it was more innocuous than that, with them posturing themselves after they viewed others who were stuffed with negative emotions as well.
But take a second and think, do they ever really even have a chance? I mean, who is their model for a strong, sensitive and emotional male? Emotions are a lot to deal with, we all know this, but can you imagine consistently numbing those moods? Their escape may start innocently enough with music, sports, and skateboards. However as they grow the techniques become more damaging with prescription drugs and alcohol abuse become accepted, if not encouraged. Each numbing technique gives them permission to stuff the anger deep inside and cover it up with superfluous worldly things. But again it’s not their fault when these young boys grow up without the support they need. That’s not to say there isn’t hope.
When you finally want to break through the bullshit you have to call yourself out and realize the only one that is going to change life is you. If you don’t seek help this anger you may typically ignore will grow and lead to even darker problems.
Less than 50% of boys and men with mental health challenges seek help. Slowly but surely they begin to get worn down with suicidal thoughts that slowly infiltrate their mind. Our root chakra, the very energy center that holds down to this big world, begins to lose footing. We become separate from whom we really are, opening the floodgates to thoughts of leaving this life. It’s crucial for boys to have a place where they can express their internal selves, and parents; we need to help them find the language.
That’s why I have begun to introduce a new course into my practice called Soul Circle where men are encouraged to come and participate in this safe space! So far I have had the absolute honor of standing before fourteen men who were willing to talk about their soul. At times it was uncomfortable, but most of the time it was natural, flowing, and easy. The guys chose twelve archetypes which are patterns that are lodged in our deep subconscious mind and guide us each day either leaving us open and thriving, or stuck and shut down. Each month we met and discussed how a personal archetypal pattern played out in their life. In the past I had only done work with women, and after a year I learned something about men…they are really simple! Give them a task and well, they do it. Hold the space for them to feel and well, they do. I think the majority of the transformation was just in showing up and being committed to themselves. Some married, some not. Some looking for a career while others were trying to balance work and family life. The guys had great advice for one another. There was a closeness and connection, and it was a true gift to witness. Join a Soul Circle!
Please join us Wednesday, November 30th at 7pm
for An Evening of Empowered Health where we will be screening The Mask You Live In. $20 online, $25 at the door
TESTIMONIALS FROM YEAR-LONG MEN’S SOUL CIRCLE:
The Soul Circle has been a transformational experience that I will never forget. Walking into class I realized what a Motley Crue of gentlemen Gina had gathered up. From the outside it looked as though it was an AA meeting: suits, tattoos, squares, salesman and construction workers all sitting there, all unconscious to the truth we were about to unveil. But, as the truth of our archetypes began to strip away the layers, it was actually a group of souls waiting for the magnet of connection to turn on from our higher powers.
In the beginning it started slow, like little children thrown on stage to a group of adults in the audience waiting to judge and dish out their parental criticism, but once the last pebble was dislodged the ball began to roll…and roll it did. Fears, dreams, accomplishments, and pain began to explode like the 4th of July. The show had begun. The group began to break away from the handcuffs this life had put us in. We shared probably more than any of us had in any place, ever. We learned about us, the real us and how we worked. Not just on a subsurface level, but we actually began to connect the dots of how and why we do what we do and how it connects to our physical self, both mentally and physically.
The Soul Circle had become the circle of souls connected through vulnerability, honesty and trust. We began to give back what we were given in order to heal. Walking in a year ago I would’ve never thought that I and we could all accomplish what we did. We grew into better, stronger, more honest versions of ourselves and we realized that its all part of the plan.
Being in The Soul Circle has allowed me to grow, face inner demons that were locked deep inside and heal the pain that was hardwired into my existence.
Today I can breathe; today I can feel.
Own something no one can take. Eliminate the fears that create the doubt that squashes your spirit. Remove the burden of expectations. You’ll find yourself asking questions and finding answers to life’s more puzzling issues. The difference between this journey and others is that the entire time you’re going through the journey you’re still in the daily routines of life. There is no weekend retreat, no get-a-way, but you learn to find the time to give to yourself.
I am glad to have been a part of this unique experience. As you probably could imagine, I was reluctant to participate in Soul Circle after initially hearing about it. Fortunately, my wife is stubborn and she convinced me to go. If I wasn’t going to attend for myself at least I needed to participate for her. I discovered a lot about myself, such as what inhibits me from making the needed steps to move forward. I am beginning to realize the origin of the fears that I have placed in my life; and how I use fear to protect myself from certain realities. I’ve come to the understanding that the only way I can truly embrace life is to embrace reality (no matter the difficulties it may bring). These deep fears were not being revealed to me through my faith in God alone.
Thank you for creating a space and an outlet to project these feelings. I’m grateful to have persevered and completed the 12 months. I am a better man for it.