Men Moving beyond the Old Models

December 25, 2011 · Category: Men and Leadership, Men and Relationship, Men and Work 
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by Owen Marcus

Growing up, men are usually trained by women on how to be emotional – women filled in for the male role models who weren’t around. Now that we are grown, it’s time we learn how to be emotional in a masculine way. I recently wrote a post for the elephant journal called, Men—Stop Going to Women for All of your Emotional Support.

In Stand by Your Man for Role/Reboot I write about how women can not only help the men they love, but also help themselves. Here’s how:

1. Understand many of your complaints about men are not because we are bad or broken; men weren’t fed the key ingredients of masculinity. Simply, we’re not trying to piss you off.

2. Realize that, as much as you love us and know what we need, we need to get much of those key ingredients from other men.

3. This is a particular request of mine: Please support men to join men’s groups. Countless women have told me how much better their relationships are, how much happier their men are, what better fathers they are, after their partner has joined a men’s group.

Guess what? Turns out, Men Are More Sensitive than Women is a post on breaking the old belief that women are the sensitive ones. Well, guys we are sensitive too. Stop giving that ability away to women.

In my post Why Men Are in Trouble for The Good Man Project, I talked about how men are walking away from the restrictions of past generations and cultures. I disagree with William J. Bennett (U.S. Secretary of Education, 1985-1988, and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush) who wrote a cnn.com article about Why men are in trouble. This “decline” of the masculine is not caused by being less religious, as Bennett suggests. Religion is just one of the several institutions that both men and women are walking away from because is isn’t serving their needs.

We condemn young men for not growing up—but we never showed them how to mature or gave them the tools to do it! I agree with Bennett’s assessment that the media continues to feed this problem with no appropriate role models. Bennett’s suggestion is that these men “need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction.” Yes, that is a start. More critical, and far more powerful, is the power of modeling. A book, movie or sermon instructs, but they don’t model for these men what they never got to see.

It’s our responsibility to teach other men, particularly young men, what they didn’t get to learn. Women did a great job, but they aren’t men. We need men modeling maturity for other men. If you have any doubt about how important this is, please read my post on psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s TED video where he asks, “Why are boys struggling?” His stats (lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships) are impressive. Before we can change this we need to know the problem exist. There is no better description of this problem than Philip Zimbardo’s video.

On this post for The Good Men Project I write about my personal experience of being bullied and how it transformed me for the good. It taught me to stand up for myself. Part of what I did was speak up. As I write about in Just Say It, there is nothing more powerful than a man getting his voice. And in the follow up post, I write about how to do that.

I also write about how men are experiencing a new kind of stress in the post Work-Life Balance Hard for Men, Too. Now that we have research to support that it is tough, it’s OK to admit to it. In my post Is Stress Getting to You? I explain how a good group can help you unwind from the stress and limitations of your life. Participating in a men’s group is a powerful way to move beyond only having women support us.

My two posts How Honoring another Man Is So Powerful and Man’s Love speak about those unique ways men feel and express their emotions. Honor is bigger than one person. The love that comes from it may be difficult for a woman to understand – why would a man willing die for honor? What is bigger than you that you honor and love?

One way to better understand men is to understand men in men’s groups. When you put a group of committed men together in a group that meets regularly, magic happens. Maybe for the first time in some of these men’s lives, they have a place to experience men in a loving way. Work rarely allows for deep camaraderie and trust, sports may for brief moments, a battlefield certainly can – but where do you get to be with men on a regular basis that helps you feel proud to be a man?

My recent post Guiding Principles of a Men’s Group – and of Being a Man has become the most popular post on my blog. That tells me that men are looking for a deeper connection to themselves and to other men. These principles evolved over seven years of my men’s groups. Every time I read them I get a tear in my eye and a chill in my body. These principles are what I aspire to be.

What models and principles are you breaking out of? What are the principles you aspire to live by?

Owen Marcus, MA a Rolfer, holistic medical clinic owner, men’s group leader and for 30 years has catalyzed deep change for other men. His blog – www.owenmarcus.com addresses a wide range of concerns for men. Owen was a featured speaker at the Ultimate Men’s Summit in June 2011. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1997.

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