A sneak peek into a Men’s Group
I’m writing this article to invite both men and women to take a sneak peek behind the door into the hallowed ground of a Men’s group, and I do this for a few reasons;
- to eliminate any mystique
- to create a space for inclusion and understanding for the women and to get your support
- to reassure curious men that we don’t sit in a circle singing kumbaya or beating our chests
- but most of all, I want to share why I believe men’s groups are of crucial importance for us all today, men, women and children, and for the world.
I was first awakened to the idea of “men’s work” when I needed it most and before I knew there was such a thing. In early adulthood I felt quite alone in some ways. While I had plenty of friends, family and colleagues around me I didn’t feel that I had much good support. I often felt that as a man, father and husband I was responsible for the safety and wellbeing of my family, and happily so, but who had my back? Who was looking out for me?
I had a strong feeling that I needed to find that support among other men seeking the same, but where? I knew I wouldn’t find it at work, around the BBQ or in the pub. So 7 years ago, after my marriage ended, when I really needed that support, I created my first men’s group.
This first group was a small collection of guys I knew, who gathered informally every fortnight in my living room. We had no clue what we were doing but we were happy to go along in the spirit of discovery and co-creation. It was a great start.
A year later after I finished my studies and began my counselling practice, I opened my second Men’s group, Sacred Men’s Business. This group was held fortnightly in a little room in the back of a bookshop. The perfect ironic metaphor for a secure location for masculine vulnerability, tucked in the back, out of sight, behind millions of pages of knowledge.
I put out some flyers, opened my doors and to my relief men came, men of all ages and from all walks of life. At one point, like some hilarious joke, I had an Englishman, a Scotsman, a Hare Krishna, an ex-priest and a devout atheist in the room! As you can imagine this made for some meaty discussion! A good men’s group will welcome diversity of belief, culture and sexuality, recognising that beneath all the labels, we’re all men at the core, dealing with the same shit.
So what brings a man to a men’s group? As many reasons as there are men, but I could distil them all down to one core motivation:
We want to do better at this thing called ‘manhood’
We want to show up for life more fully, more authentically and more potently. We desire to play a bigger game in our relationships, in our work, and in our role as earthlings. We want to make better partners, fathers, friends, colleagues and leaders. And we want to serve life and love with our full capacity. In some unique way we have each felt this call and we’re willing to own our fears, excuses and limitations, strip naked, bare it all and dive in anyway. I think you’d all agree that the world is crying out for more men like this.
There are many formulas for a men’s group but they all have some commonalities; an opening with some centring exercise like meditation. Check in time to share what’s going on for me, my challenges and my wins. Opportunity to receive feedback from the other men. Maybe some deepening inquiry or exercises on a particular topic. And some way of closing.
Built on core principles of respect, responsibility and realness, a men’s group provides a man with a safe and supportive container where he can explore his deepest questions about himself, about life, and about his place in the world. A space where he can be held in his discomfort and vulnerability, to own, acknowledge and share his challenges, fears and shortcomings. A space to be held accountable, called on his crap and challenged by brothers he can trust and who have his back. A space to explore, embody and express his own unique version of manhood.
Looking back on my journey through this work I am deeply humbled by the courage, commitment and strength of each man I have had the privilege to sit with. My gratitude for all we have shared is immense; The stories I’ve heard, the growth I’ve witnessed, the lives I’ve been invited into and the tears, laughs and challenges we’ve endured. Absolute gold! But what fires me up the most is to see how each man has helped me become the man I am now. Has challenged me to step up, to get real and stay on purpose, despite my flaws. This is my heart fuel and helps me do the great work I do with men as well as with women and couples.
We don’t see many positive stories of good men in the media today so I really want this to be massive shout out for the good men. I have your back and I know you have mine.
And ladies, I hope this helps you see how a man engaged in a men’s group, who’s taking responsibility for his shit, is doing his personal growth work and is willing to go the yards, he is a good man to have around, for you, for the kids and for the world. Get your men there!