I’ve been a student of the masculine struggle since I first noticed that the Brotherhood was gone. I saw it unravel slowly at first then it unraveled for all to see and fell to the bottom. It was shocking and it disturbed my sensibilities and I wondered if others also noticed this phenomena. The wave of contemplation took me to reactiveness and even some dark corners before I backed away and realized that perhaps another approach could offer the support for a reinvigorated brotherhood.
The natural course of inquiry lead me to the question how did this breakdown occur and why. At this point the social narrative broke out in my thinking and many other reflections ensued, including historic privilege, identity confusion, domination, rage etc.
In recent years a phrase has been crafted to gather these elements into a cultural slur, “masculine toxicity”. I’m told that it was never intended to be derogatory – but that simply isn’t true by definition. I’m not intending to set up a discourse of polarization within the gender spectrum because as brothers we’ll need to claim our own stuff, understand it and then work to understand it more. There has come a point in this observation and my own conversations where it seems that there has been a gathering at the bottom without a hope of meaningful recovery to a healthy new emergence.
I have commenced a respectful regathering of those who know what the bottom looks and feels like. Coach with James is an initiative to engage those who hope that a satisfying out can be realized with the help of the community of brothers. We’ll delve into important conversations (not necessarily at a counselling level) to better acquaint ourselves with this dynamic of wondering who and where we are in this cultural time. There will be learning to reconstitute this maleness which seems not to know itself any longer. The time for this reclamation to occur is now.
There are old stories that are told of people and animals who were caught in some “bramble” (thorny shrub), who were unable to extricate themselves from it. Those tales didn’t end well regardless of the struggle. We can easily find ourselves in a “mental bramble” unable to maneuver to freedom. How that happens is not too complicated; we take ourselves to those places of torment and we sit entangled for days on end. We know that our mental health and even our soul is in jeopardy but we remain there none-the-less; that’s the funk and the fog is the endless review as to how we got entangled in the first place. Getting out isn’t yet in our thinking but it will very soon occupy everything we think and feel.
The answer in part is to “speak to ourselves” and challenge the core of our thought process for the purpose of extrication and moving to the next level of life. The “mental bramble” can seem to be an impossible situation but it’s not for those who elect to be on their way to healthy living. We so often succumb to the entanglement without giving sufficient effort to getting free. This dynamic isn’t the ideal male attribute but it’s the experience of many without adequate resolution.
So, what is the way out? Contesting or questioning status que isn’t easy but produces wanted results, like, do I benefit from where I’m at, how long can I stay without doing permanent damage, do you like being entangled / stuck, is there anyone who could help me? That strategy seems simple enough – but not really. It takes great courage to address that which most entangles. Sometimes living in the familiar, even though it’s extremely negative is our go to place. Just know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Coach with James can help you.
Some of them are dark and removed from easy access, others we flaunt in code and deceit. We treasure them and they compound, not in wealth but in torment. We gather them from ages in our past, some we own, and others, well that’s the secret. They complicate life because we’re prone to use them, we hold them in reserve for the right moment of use but our conscience troubles us and we hold on for a better day.
One cannot forget what we’ve heard and done but we can determine that we’ll not use that secret knowledge to harm another. Secrets have such game potential and there’s the risk to manipulate and control because we can use the secrets against others for our foolish benefit. It must be admitted that its shameful behavior but we do it almost without thinking. If we could only live above the ethical fray and be honest with those we’re closest to without holding a threat in reserve.
We must confront ourselves and ask, do we possess personal legitimacy or authenticity in our dealings with people especially those with whom we’re the closest. We can actually afford to park those secrets from the arsenals of our revenge and leave them where they are, as memories in trust for Non Use.
If secrets have their way with you then let’s talk and be free. Coach with James can help.
It seems to me that at earlier times in history, people didn’t have the luxury of entertaining the “woe is me” attitude that has infiltrated our current culture. After all there were “real” problems that affected multitudes of people. In our modern era of convenience we have lost touch with a critical perspective; one in which we are not the focus of everything and everyone around us. You are simply a piece of the puzzle. What I have observed in recent years is people desperately seeking some kind tribalistic woe with which to identify; so that their misbehavior feels justified. Sometimes situations unfold a certain way because of the way we choose to act, or the words we speak. Isaac Newton stated in his 3rd law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and to believe otherwise is foolish. We cannot continue to operate under this notion that we should be able to behave in disrespectful and inappropriate ways while acting totally perplexed when the repercussions kick us in the ass. Every day we have many decisions to make, one of which is how we perceive our circumstances. Do we firmly hold that today is an extension of yesterday, or last year, or some earlier life event? This is a troubling and problematic perspective for anyone to have as it robs today of its innate sovereignty and endless possibility. I don’t deny that we are each born into different environmental conditions, but I will not accept that because of these circumstances you are now without options. While it is naïve to think that we are not influenced by the people we’ve encountered, the experiences we’ve had and so on, we must not tether our future to past misfortunes. Every morning we have the responsibility to step boldly into a new day with fervent expectation that we can achieve more than the day before. We can believe for bigger and better things than what lies behind us. Each day is a gift, that’s why it’s called “the present”. It may seem tempting at times, perhaps even convenient, to use our past troubles to explain our current circumstances, but it’s high time we take hold of our own lives and own our decisions. You are an independent variable capable of dynamic change, we weren’t meant to operate in static repetition. So stop attributing your difficulties to your (insert victim identity here), and start taking responsibility for your life. Stop blaming other people for the things in your life that feel subpar or unfair. You are able to affect change in the areas of your life that could be improved, but it requires a redirecting and refocusing of your many skills and talents. Know that it is YOUR life, no one else’s. Be your own advocate, and unleash yourself upon the world.
By Steve Scorgie
I recall being stuck on a farm road when the snow had fallen fast and deep – there was no way out though all efforts to me had been tried. I stood looking all around for options and saw none. There was a resolution in time by a neighbor who happened along with the day finally ended well. These are experiences that we all endure, if not this kind then another. I see this akin to our lives as men moving forward but stuck being the operative experience. Of course, it’s a human occurrence but men add dimension to the familiarity with a frustration that touches and altars the soul. The experience can become the identity which is peculiar and defiantly something of which you want to avoid. So, let’s admit at the least that stuck is simply stuck and nothing more, but such is not the fantasy. We come up against these struggles and they do affect us in multiple ways forcing an interpretation which may not be accurate or helpful. Before we solidify the internal conclusion, it might be worth it to review the experience and determine its true value and affect so that a stuck phenomenon can be avoided. Coach with James will help you in this review and assessment.