I fucking hate you.
Everything you've said to me, it hurts.
But I know it's... But I wanna make sure it's not you being a jerk.
I wanna make sure that...
'Cause I... what context to say:
"What's your earliest memory of that feeling?"
A men's group is a group of men
who meet periodically to talk about life.
■ For support when men grieve.
■ To find human connection.
■ To examine the male identity.
■ To disclose and have deep-rooted, personal feelings
(including the ones that society doesn't welcome).
And, sometimes, to remind one another of inner wounds.
It's a place for unguarded conversations,
to investigate, with a council of men, the riddles of life.
Yeah, one of the things that I find most valuable about
men's groups is that there's a chance to recognize what is
immediately present. Like, if I am afraid, then okay: I'm afraid.
And that's the truth for that moment.
And it's possible to be open about the truth of the moment,
without having it define my whole life.
It doesn't mean I'm always like that.
But, I can kinda explore every facet of myself that
maybe doesn't get that much space in everyday life.
Could be anger, could be fear, could be insecurity...
It could also be, um...
Maybe even self-acknowledging...
Like, self-acknowledgement can also be taboo.
It can be taboo in either direction.
And, I think, to explore the full range of being human
and being a man is one of the gifts that a men's group offers.
My ability to listen is improved greatly.
'Cause when men share, I get an energetic bump.
One, because it identifies with me.
I go: Me too. Me too, me too, me too.
Like, I hear... I identify with...
Almost without exception, every time a man shares,
there's something about his sharing that is in me too.
And this is the beauty, I think, of a men's group.
It's that we can be strangers that come together,
but we share what it's like to be a man.
And, we've all had...
We come from different cultures and different upbringings.
But, it's a shared experience.
So, to have the company, the fellowship of men
and know that: You belong here. You may feel isolated,
and your experiences have been different,
but there's a shared experience.
We all heal when when we're together.
Expression gives rise to clarity.
I think after something is being expressed, then it can change.
It can transform.
But if I keep it inside myself and not tell anyone,
then it can get stuck. And it can become a problem.
But once I express it, then suddenly it changes.
So, I think, with expression, it's not about the expression
in itself having to be very meaningful or it being a certain way.
It's more about the process itself of expressing whatever is there
will give it an opportunity to change and move.
One of the wonderful side-effects of
any form of self-disclosure is: you learn about yourself.
When you start opening up to others, you start
hearing yourself say things that you weren't so clear about.
Yeah, can we create a forum, where we can have space,
so we can really show up?
So, who shows up?
■ Our lover,
■ our killer,
■ our judger.
All the traits, all the things that we've been informed is like...
"Mmm, that's not good. No, no, no, I don't want to see that."
But if we have that in us...
■ The tantrums we weren't being able to have,
■ our disgust with whatever,
■ even our parents,
■ our sexual fantasies.
Like openly share this stuff. So that we can a) realize
that doesn't diminish our goodness. We're humans.
Is there something you can do in a men's group
specifically well that you wouldn't be able to do
■ on your own,
■ with your spouse,
■ with a normal psychotherapist?
I mean, I don't know if it's exclusive to a men's group,
but I find a men's group is a perfect laboratory to try things out.
If it's built... if it's got some good... if it's got good
principles (confidentiality and whatever those might be)
to make you feel safe.
That's the place where you can really kick the tires,
test the waters, and see what the reaction
will be and see how well (or not) it lands, you're accepted.
What surprises me is when I see men share in a men's group,
and you get a sense it's something really risky for them,
it's something they haven't told anybody, or they're ashamed of it
and they really want to put it out there...
When they get the resonance back, where, if you inquire and say:
"Well, he just said something that was pretty risky, and,
you know, it was something personal, does anybody relate to this?",
and you see the majority of hands go up.
That's sort of breaking the isolation that we think of
ourselves as "I'm the only one who thinks this way
or has these opinions."
And when you see other men are like...
can identify with it, it validates your being.
There is often a limited understanding of what love and care means.
And I think that, unfortunately, some of the gifts
that men can bring (which is, often, a bit different
from what women bring), has not been valued enough.
That, to challenge someone else, or challenge oneself,
or to go into something that is difficult, with fierceness
and commitment, like: "Let's figure this out!"
That can be an act of love and care.
But there is often a lot of fear of this intensity.
And I think that's very sad because it's, uh... misunderstanding... misunderstood.
There's a lot of confusion around the potential,
kinda cutting-through ability that, perhaps, is a bit stronger
in men than in women.
And that confusion can also lead to that it cannot really be
used appropriately and effectively in the world.
But the men's groups can be a training ground
to use this ability to cut through the bullshit
in oneself, in relationships, in work, and so on.
And that's an aspect of love and care as I see it.
Groups of both men and women
have their own unique attributes too,
but there are things
that only men can do for other men.
Men's groups are a place
to get a supportive connection with other men
in an all-male environment,
to which many men have no easy access
and which they may have been told
cannot be entirely trusted.
Yes, you know, in terms of civil liberties, we're all equal.
In terms of, you know, laws, et cetera.
At least, ideally we should be.
I mean, that's a struggle we have, you know, as a society.
But no, we aren't equal,
■ in our temperaments,
■ our psychologies,
■ our proclivities,
■ et cetera.
That it's perfectly fine to acknowledge it and accept it.
Rather than to work on it.
And it's very wide that, to tell you that...
in the gay movement that's sort of a different angle.
And sometimes people think: "Oh gosh, are you guys
a gay group? Is it a gay thing or something?"
No, it's not a gay thing. It's a male thing.
But gays are very keen on identifying that identity in terms of sexual
orientation. And if you just extrapolated it more:
Okay, aside from sexual orientation...
Okay, well, what is it about men? Period.
I do want to thank you all for inviting me here today.
It's certainly very interesting.
Karen's working again, which is cool.
Stella's in first grade, and she's doing great.
I don't mind taking care of Jack.
I like... I like being a dad, you know?
We spend a lot of time at the park.
Some of the women there, they look at me... little funny.
You know, like: "Hey, what a cool dad, playing with his kids,
but, hmm... why isn't he out there working?"
If people are talking about thoughts:
"I think that god is this," or that "my spirituality is that..."
Those are ideas. And there is a place for ideas in a men's team,
but, generally speaking, you can express ideas fairly
openly in less intimate domains.
There are meetup groups on spirituality
and on cooking or politics.
And, it's important to have a rough idea of what
people think about politics and spirituality as men's team members,
but it's wasting precious time if that...
is a lot more of that than there is...
■ "I'm really anxious about my mother's illness."
■ "I'm really horny and I've got the hottest girlfriend that I just met and, oh my god, I haven't felt this way since I was twenty-two."
■ "I'm so excited. I think I'm gonna land a big deal, I'm gonna get a major contract."
■ "Um, you know, I'm lonely. I'm fucking lonely. I just put my cards..."
These are more appropriate, it seems to me, for a men's team,
for any sort of intimacy group, than sort of the ideological.
And, and I think the best men's groups
and the ones that are longest recognize that, and...
Because, I might not be interested in politics,
or your politics. Or, environmental issues.
But I'm always interested in what my brother is feeling.
That always strikes me as really interesting.
So, I think the antidote to intellectualization is to have guys
in the team recognizing that and then saying...
depending on the culture, some will require that you ask
permission to ask a question.
Others: "No, you can..." (after the end of the share) "What are you feeling about that?
You've just talked about this contract and how Joe was doing
that and Ed was coming to get you, and you thought he was
trying to cheat you in a way...
Right, those are all facts and figures.
How do you actually feel about it? What was going on?"
That's way more juicy. I don't really care about Ed and his
Machiavellian ways. I'm really interested in your internal world.
And the more guys that can sort of herd us all into talking
about our feelings, the juicier it gets.
What is the value of having the other men present?
So, a number of things. One is that there is support.
There's support for both men to be held in...
I think it sort of validates the sacredness of the container,
and that this man can be supported by other men in whatever
way he needs.
He might say "Go away," like, you know,
"Don't be here," and the group can do that as well.
Or he can feel challenged by the group.
And if he's curious enough, I mean...
Generally... my experience is when men are in a group
and they develop sort of a sense of safety because, as they
get to know everybody's history and the men personally,
then you become to trust and...
I think it opens up where you can go deeper in your process
knowing that you won't be shamed or be misunderstood
or be just discarded, like "Oh, you're you're damaged goods,"
But I think, the group container... Also, the wisdom of
the group is there. So, occasionally I'll...
If a man is working on something and the group is there
and you can feel the energy, I can feel... I'm really...
get in touch with... what's feeling here.
A lot of times a man on the outside... if you say:
"What are you feeling here? Cause, we're in this collective energy field
and don't think that what you're feeling is not important.
Like, what are you feeling right now?" And if he goes
"Oh, I feel sadness," and then you can sort of say
"Is anybody else feeling that?"
And, even if no one else is, you can claim "There's sadness here,
as we watch this man struggle with something."
And, another man might say: "I'm bored.
This is bullshit. This is taking too much time."
That's valid too.
There's ... there's frustration.
So, you begin to solicit. And then you realize
it's, like... all of that can be present. It's a part of it.
It's how... What you're feeling doesn't have to be...
It's rarely is where everybody feels the same kind of feeling.
But these are valuable insights, so that...
It's information you can bring.
The man will hear and go: "Does that mean anything to you?"
He's, he's feeling frustrated, and he's feeling sad.
And you see where it goes.
So, it's essential that everyone is participating
whether they think they are or not.
They are within this collective energy field.
They're hearing the same things.
They're experiencing it. But, what's going on inside for them
is of value to the overall process.
It's one of the things that I notice about men
who are part of a good men's group and who show up
in fierce authenticity, is they acquire this mountain-like quality.
This kind of groundedness, this stability, in their relationships.
They show up as the mountain in the lives of the women and children
in their lives. And, that is such an important contribution
that we as mature men can offer to
■ our homes,
■ our beloved ones,
■ the women,
■ society in general,
■ our workplace.
And, you know, there is this beautiful saying from our tradition:
"Man must be the mountain. So that she can:
■ flow like the river,
■ rage like the wind,
■ pour like the rain,
■ and float like the cloud."
And that is such a powerful reminder of how multi-dimensional
the nature of the feminine is. And the joy that comes out of that dance
■ that river,
■ that rain,
■ that wind,
■ that cloud...
That is possible.
A woman is able to embody that only
when we can show up as that mountain, with:
■ that groundedness,
■ that stability,
■ that clarity,
■ that patience...
All of that.
See, here's my insurance policy:
all the good men I got in my life that will inspect me.
And that'll make sure that when I screw up ('cause I
screw up once in a while) that I can get back on track.
And that I'm not going to take stuff out on her,
and I'm not going to make her pay for stuff.
I mean emotionally, whatever.
I'm not going to do that.
'Cause the men I got in my life won't let me do that.
Now, I'm going to run up against stuff in a relationship
■ I don't know what to do,
■ I don't know how to deal with her,
■ I don't know how to be with her.
Now, I have found myself over the last twenty-six years.
The best way for me to get that?
The absolute best way?
Is from other men.
And it's there.
And sometimes I gotta search a little bit
to find the right men. 'Cause a lot of men don't have
those answers as well. Ha ha ha.
But there's gold there. When I can find those men
that can mentor me and guide me and teach me
how to be that man. How to be with my wife, with my woman.
■ we're not at odds with each other,
■ we're not fightin' like cats and dogs,
■ we're not setting a poor example for our children.
So, because I don't need her for all of those things
that we need, my cup's full!
I come home and...
■ I can be there for her,
■ I can be there to listen to her,
■ and to be there for her no matter what her day's been like,
■ and spend time with her,
■ and take whatever it is she needs to give me:
□ the good,
□ the bad,
□ the ugly...
...whatever it is. Without taking it personally. Without reacting.
And also, as a result: she gives me more in many, many ways than,
I think, any woman ever has in my life. Well, that's pretty good.
I mean, is it all bliss and wonderful all the time?
No. I mean, sometimes she thinks I'm an idiot, I'm a jerk;
she gets angry with me. But when she does,
I don't have to react. I don't have to defend myself.
My cup's full. Does that make sense?
It's... I mean... I didn't think it was possible.
If I'd have sat here thirty years ago...
Totally different story. Totally different story.
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, what you're saying is really relevant,
actually, to my personal situation right now. And I guess I, um...
And I don't think you're alone there
by any stroke of the imagination.
Yeah, and I think what happens is often:
the relationship with other men gets not prioritized enough.
And I kind of going like... you know, when there's trouble
in the relationship, I go: "Oh my god, I need to put
more attention, more time into the relationship with
the woman," and I actually neglect the relationships
with the men. But, therefore, my cup is not being filled
in that way you described.
And so, that the time that I'm spending with her
is not, maybe, satisfying or filling her cup
in that way you describe, which then...
Yeah sure, we're spending more time together, but
it seems like it's more time in tension
or in difficulty, which seems to sorta
damage the relationship.
And... So I felt more emotionally secure
having these close bonds with eight... seven other guys.
And, I felt less needy around, say, my girlfriend
and that just made the relationship healthier.
If I don't need her so much...
■ I can be more independent
■ I can be a little less anxious if things aren't going okay.
And all of that just makes the relationship better.
And also it... Like, having regular training.
Like, one of the neat things about an emotional...
a men's team is that it requires you to sort of
go inward a fair amount.
Like: "What is really going on?"
Like: "We don't really wanna hear about your attitudes to the Canucks,
or the environmental catastrophe."
I mean, those could be important subjects, but
what we're really here for is like: "What really is going
on inside? Let's open up and see."
And that actually is good training for when
you come to be in a really intimate relationship
(like being with a woman) is you've had some
practice looking inside, and figuring out
what you feel about things. And, you can bring
that... I'll call it expertise... to a relationship with a
woman. So, there's another advantage to it.
I mean I say all this, of course... saying 'man' and 'woman':
I'm a straight guy and actually, everyone in our
teams are all straight, but I'm sure the same thing would apply
if I was gay and had a guy friend rather than a girlfriend.
Don't tell us that the men here can't be trusted.
Each man in this group has dedicated himself
to working on his own shit.
The fact is, you are having problems with your wife
and you don't know how to fix them.
No one is betraying you, Mohammed-you're doing that to yourself!
You don't know how to treat women, and you never have!
And... and now your wife is finally saying
she's not gonna put up with it anymore!
You just shut up now!
I won't shut up! I'm not gonna shut up!
I've been told to shut up my whole life!
My father told me to shut up! My mother told me to shut up!
My ex-wife told me to shut up! And I'm not gonna do it anymore!
You hear me?!
What we came to understand was... is that:
■ That we have to be able to not be conflict-avoidant,
■ but to be able to sit in conflict.
■ To not lose our voices in conflict.
■ To maintain our voices.
■ To speak to it.
We had to understand:
■ The difference between being enraged and outraged.
■ The understanding that rage, essentially, with men, is a combination of anger plus shame.
■ That when men are shamed when they're young, their heads drop.
■ And they inculcate that wound in such a way that, at some point, it's gonna come out as rage.
I think if you contextualize it by saying
to the person: "I feel mad when you do that.
Because it reminds me of my grade-four teacher,
who shamed me. And I hate you for it."
So, you're claiming the origin of it.
"When you said those words to me last week,
I was really hurt. So, I will conclude:
I hate you for that. You make me feel something."
Now I have look at the feeling in me.
I have a young... I have a trigger in me.
And you're pushing on this really sensitive spot.
So I want to just be clear here.
And so, if you can have that conversation,
you can thank them for aggravating you,
because, if you're willing to follow it back to its origin,
you're just realizing it's... the wound is there.
They've just pushed it, unknowingly.
Okay, the wound is there and it's an old wound...
You're not... you're saying: "You are not the problem,
but it's somehow..."
But what if they really are the problem?
So give me an example.
Somebody's just generally a jerk.
Or someone is, um... just being offensive, being...
Or: "I can't stand you."
I think there's great wisdom any time
an emotion like that comes...
Yeah; "I can't stand you. I can't stand being with you.
You're too demanding. You want too much of me."
That is an opening into healing.
But you've gotta be able to tolerate the...
like, whatever it is to be able to say it...
the embarrassment, the humiliation.
You have to be able to tolerate that when, I think it...
I think our first reaction is when we've been
wounded emotionally, is to get away from the hot stove.
Right? "No way. No way—I'm gone, and you're a bad person,
and I'm never gonna see you again."
That's the way to end it. But it doesn't clear it up.
I think you've got to stay engaged... and:
"Would you be willing to explore this with me?
I fucking hate you.
Everything you've said to me, it hurts.
But I know it's... But I wanna make sure it's not you being a jerk.
I wanna make sure that...
'Cause I... what context to say:
"What's your earliest memory of that feeling?"
And ninety-nine percent of the time it's:
"when I was... blank years old and somebody yelled at..."
It's an old wound that is just being retriggered.
And you are doing this to me.
And I have had conflicts with people where...
You just want them to die and no longer exist in the world,
'cause they trigger so much in you,
where I thank them profusely for the gift they gave me
because they were willing to spar with me and figure this out
And sometimes a mediator's required.
Sometimes a therapist there to say:
"Tell me all the things he reminds you of, or she reminds you of.
Let's really explore this. Let's really explore this."
And it's just history. It's history.
And it can go back.
To be... to be very young.
One occasion where this man,
he carried so much anger from all the defeats of life
and the injustices of modern life.
And I remember, in this man's case, the system let him down,
'cause he was going through a separation and all that.
And it was amazing (he's actually from this land),
how tragically prejudiced the system was towards his separation.
It was prejudiced. And I may not know the full story,
but the way he laid out the events, the different facts...
The men sitting there, they were like: "This seems factual.
Why would they say 'no'?"
But... and you can imagine
■ his pain,
■ his frustration,
■ the anger,
■ the resentment,
■ ...everything inside.
And there came a moment where he just stood up,
took his own stick, and he started beating the trees
for a good five minutes.
The stick broke into pieces.
It was flying all over the place.
There was sweat and spit.
At the end of it, he found a very tranquil place.
A place of awareness from which...
And I still remember. He said at the end...
And then he said something like:
"You know what? I'm going to make this..."
He said two things. (Uh, I'm trying to remember...)
One thing he said was like:
"I'm going to make this a compassionate separation.
And, everything that she wants... I'll say 'yes' to it.
If she wants to be a lesser person, that's her choice.
That is not going to equate to who I am.
And I am going to approach this whole process with compassion.
If it's going to make her happy, whatever she's gonna ask,
I'm gonna say 'yes.'
That was one of the things he said.
The second thing he said was about the system or something, like:
"You know what? I recognize, the system is prejudiced
against me, against men. And that's okay. That is a reflection
of the consciousness of our society than of my own greatness.
So, you know what? It is... they are the ones
who should be losing sleep because of who they are.
I am who I am. And I'll be in my greatness. I forgive the system."
There's something innate to men, which Bly
referred to as the Wild Man: snatching the key
from under the mother's pillow, unlocking the wild man,
and going off on a quest.
In mythology, there's always a journey.
There's always, you know, whether...
And who do we meet along the way?
We meet the Cyclops. We meet the Sirens.
We have to go after something: the holy grail, the golden chalice...
But, we've gotta test ourselves.
And then we've gotta bring something back.
Whether it's like Herman Hesse's Siddhartha.
You know, going off. And then coming back.
Or the... The Return of the Prodigal Son.
It's always about the mission that takes us away
so that we... we come closer to who we really are
through being tested and surviving.
And then the return.