Men are often thinking and feeling similar things. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful…
In men’s groups – an environment where good men feel safe to share whatever they are experiencing – the guys quickly realize that we are often feeling and thinking about similar things.
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This video shows the kinds of men’s group topics that come up in a men’s support group:
“I want to be a better father.” “My family doesn’t understand.” “I can’t explain how I’m feeling.” “I don’t know what to say.” “Sometimes I stand in a crowded room and yet feel so alone.” You’ll often hear these things said over and over in any supportive men’s group from normal, popular, successful guys.
What the guys say about feelings
I know that my family loves me.
But they just don’t understand.
I feel different.
I just can’t explain how I’m feeling.
I wouldn’t know where to start.
What to say.
Who to trust.
And stand in a crowded room.
And yet feel so alone.
I’ve built a wall around me.
And nobody is getting in.
Every morning I put on my mask.
I’m doing just fine.
Nothing wrong with me.
That’s just what I tell the world.
Silently praying they don’t see right through me.
My wife knows that something isn’t right.
What happened to the passion?
I used to be so close to my kids.
It’s like Im watching life happen.
I can’t keep going on like this.
I want to be the kind of son that my parents deserve.
As a man I feel isolated.
I want to feel closer to my daughter.
A better father.
A more loving boyfriend.
An outstanding dad.
I want to be a better man.
I want to become a better man.
Don’t you want to learn how to control your emotions as a man?
Because it’s NOT just about me.
A surprising amount of men feel similar things – even badass guys like Jocko Willink feel emotions – that are so real and so understandable. Yet without the ability to share them, theses feelings can put tremendous weight on our shoulders.
This video – A Message For Men – shares the sentiment that a lot of good men have about their lives. Produced by Men’s Wellbeing, an Australian men’s organization, the video shows candidly how many men think about their lives on a daily basis and covers a wide range of men’s group topics.
All men feel similar things…
And while this video showcases middle to older aged white men in Australia, I’ve seen the same things expressed in men’s groups all over the world.
My men’s group mates that are 18 years old and men who are 80. Men who are wildly successful and others that are facing tough financial times. Single dudes and established family men. Big or small. Black or white. Straight. Gay. It doesn’t matter in a men’s circle.
Society has left men feeling like they can’t share their experiences around men’s issues and so they flock to men’s groups. Experiences like breakups and betrayal. Once they sit down in a men’s circle they realize that most feel are feeling similar things and then the pressure is taken off of their shoulders.
And It’s Not Just White Australian Men
Young and old. Black or white. Straight or gay. Big or small. Financially wealthy or broke. Singe or family man. It doesn’t matter. In our men’s groups, I see men finding it difficult to share their experiences with others and feeling isolated as a result.
This video is made by an Australian organization so it primarily showcases Aussie men but it really is men from all walks of life.
I’m always surprised to discover that even celebrities or highly successful men feel these same things, often more than the average man because they have a reputation of success to uphold and expressing these feelings is opposed to that (in their minds).
Know that it’s not your fault, man!
If you feel this way, please know that it’s not your fault.
The majority of men feel things on a regular basis to varying degrees. And it’s because we were raised to be this way.
As I shared in a recent article on online men’s groups and the historical president for why men are struggling emotionally, evolutionarily speaking we’re still designed to be living in tribes, hunting with small circles of men.
Yet for the last 300 years, humanity has been evolving in such a way that has been isolating men. And it’s left men feeling disconnected from their tribe and ultimately themselves.
Specifically, this last generation of men was particular emotionally stunted, feeling isolated themselves and that’s who raised us into a culture of “You’re a man. You shouldn’t feel anything but anger. Don’t talk about your feelings.”
I run men’s groups for a living.
That should tell you a lot about me and my values. I’m someone who enjoys and is good at sharing meaningful conversations with people around sensitive matters. I honestly should have been a counselor!
And yet I struggle, just like the men in the video, to share what I am feeling with those around me out of fear of being judged and ridiculed. Really it’s a fear of losing love.
Early on in my adulthood – in my early 20s – as a young man my fear around sharing was at it’s worst. There was such a disconnect between what I was feeling about my life and how I was presenting my life to others.
I thought that’s what I had to do. Fake it until you make it. Talk it until I could walk it. I was a cocky little fuck. I made choices based on how much it would impress people. I was numbing my secret feelings with junk food, chasing sex and surface-level achievements. I kept myself busy at all times, to avoid the quiet alone time that would allow my true emotional experience to get louder. The ones that I didn’t want to be feeling at all.
I even had early success in academia, the music business, entrepreneurship and with beautiful women, I still felt a lot of negative things about myself and my place in the world, you know? I still felt a lingering sadness with myself that wouldn’t seem to ever go away. I felt tense. Anxious.
And this inner tension that was created by the disconnect between how I was feeling and how I was presenting myself – the mask I was wearing – really affected the quality of my life. I suffered a lot, privately with depression, anxiety, and general melancholy. Eventually, this disconnect leads to me getting sick with chronic illness.
That’s right. After a decade my body became tired of the energy it took to keep up the facade, and my health came crashing down. It is EXHAUSTING not sharing my true experience with others. I have no idea how people do it for decades, hiding how they feel from their family, friends and romantic partner. What a lonely, sad existence…
And while I’ve gotten a lot better at being open about what I’m feeling and experiencing, I still hesitate to fully share with my friends, my workmates and especially my female romantic partner what I am truly experiencing in my life and how I feel about it all. This reaction is visceral. I feel tense. Anxiety ramps up. Paralysis kicks in and I get stuck in a no-mans-land between my true emotional experience and the person who is inquiring.
But the one thing I have learned over the years is that the more I share – with the right people who can handle it well – the better things get in my life and in my internal, emotional experience. It feels good to share.
Despite our conditioning, we are built to be open and to share our experiences fully with loved ones. Counterintuitively, a man sharing his experiences is brave and gathers strength by doing so. The more he shares the more he is safe because there are no big, emotional secrets that people will discover. He fully presents himself to the world without trying to hide his fears and shortcomings, and there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s only when things are a secret that could be discovered that we have something to risk.
So I continually remind myself that I must share and that’s why I invest in tools like a men’s group and counseling with a therapist to help me do so.
What men can do with these feelings
Many men – successful men – are beginning to discover that isolation doesn’t help them achieve happiness and success. It doesn’t help them become better husbands, fathers or providers.
Our recommendation would be to speak with a close friend. Tell a friend you’d like to speak about this kind of stuff with him or her in a confidential matter. Then set a time once per week to share with each other what you’re feeling.
If you don’t have a close friend you can lean on in these situations then we highly recommend checking out counseling in partnership and/or a men’s group. We know that you will likely find men’s group topics beneficial. And if you can’t find your own men’s group locally, you can always start your own men’s group using our guide on how to start a men’s group!
In these two venues, you have the opportunity to get stuff off your chest, investigate the situation and how you feel about it and receive guidance on how to navigate the topic.