Back at the time over a year ago, when me and five other men gathered together and made commitment to meet every month and talk about what truly matters, I felt somewhat skeptical about it. At that time I had an avalanche of work and even one minute for myself was a challenge.
By the end of the first two meetings my priorities became clear. This space we meet at every month and speak about what I dare to open up about only among men, is what I have begun to appreciate more than my leisure time. More than my vacation and recreation. Probably even more than true and open conversations in my family and certainly more than any seminars on self-development. This space helps me grow a very important and fundamental part of my personality.
I feel fortunate to have friends who are able to converse not merely about cars, football and best beer brands. I am happy we know the value of sharing that which limits us from being ourselves, from honest relationships and trust. I am proud we have the guts to open up about what at times seems shameful to admit even for ourselves. I am glad we have the patience and empathy to really listen and to be heard.
Being among men without the need to compete means a lot for me. Being among other men to receive acceptance when I have condemned myself for my own lacks, means a great deal for me. Being among other men who are brave enough to reach the parts of them where there’s darkness, emptiness, and shame—means a lot for me.
Today a father is not used to spending time with his son. It isn’t common for a son to spend time with his father, uncle, grandfather. A large number of boys are being raised by women. How then is a growing mind supposed to know, what it means to be a man? We can’t help but get saturated with stereotypical images of manhood, the common expectations of society, and to strive to live accordingly.
In this long-term striving the word “belong” turns into the word “fit in”. And this is where the journey starts. The journey away from ourselves. The journey to where there’s nothing to lean against, where our progress is measured by the judgement of others.
This is how men lose themselves in the attempt to fit in in the realm of the “proper men”. They end up pleasing women, their bosses, and the newspaper sellers. They have forgotten what they really want from life.
I am happy to have the space where I can get to know myself the way I truly am even at times I only wish to shrink and cry out of pain, when the men’s encouragement and support gives me energy to move on. This space is what we call our tribe. It is the community of men who recognize courage through their inner experience rather than the outside imaging.
On our recent trip to an ancient forest we built a tepee inside which we could raise important questions at a fireplace that night. Yet it’s no easy task to be part of the tribe. Our meetings resemble therapeutic work rather than leisure chatting. Taking responsibility for our own words, taking a constructive stance to develop deep empathy and non-violent communication can be a lifetime challenge.
Tensions build up, conflicts and challenges arise, but we know it is safe to learn and deal with them here. Because deep inside we all share one intention: we want to get to know ourselves in this world.
As I work with men in individual sessions and the long term groups that I run, I see the tendencies in men. And it becomes clear that shared time among men is essential as an important remedy for today’s men. The habit to please women, the avoidance of other men, the competition, the blunt sensitivity to our own feelings and those of others, the ignorance to what we truly want deep inside—all these knots begin to loosen by starting to go deeper into a safe relationship with other men.
It’s no coincidence so much is spoken on initiation and the importance of older men or mentors in a boy’s life. But having looked around and having seen the reality the way it is, even without having the proximal relationship when it was needed most, you can begin the initiation process and the journey back within. For this, you have to find the people who can support you and go along with you.
Men, I recommend—and seriously encourage—you to find your safe zone. The people you can trust. Your own tribe.
For this, do the following:
1. Think of the men you know that you would honestly want to talk to.
2. Make a call and arrange the first meeting.
3. Believe me this can be a key investment into your future.
And if you want have a chat and to get to know my story — say firstname.lastname@example.org