Many men (and women for that matter) in our society don't deal with their emotions well. As a result, most of us are walking around carrying an ever-increasing accumulation of emotional baggage that can get triggered even in seemingly innocuous situations. [caption id="attachment_3006" align="alignright" width="300"] People who are upset need empathy, not judgement.[/caption] For an example where this happened to me, check out my recent story on Why I Got Upset In Guitar Class. I'll wait here while you do that... ... OK! Dealing with people who are upset can be very challenging. Part of what makes this challenging is that other people's emotional upset is likely to trigger our own unresolved emotional baggage. This is why many people try to shut down expressions of unpleasant emotions in other people or resort to "rescuing" behaviors intended to stem the flow of another person's feelings that are making us uncomfortable. Naive rescuers often think they are "helping" because they see the upset person appearing less outwardly distressed; but the upset person is simply internalizing their emotional pain which has disastrous consequences for everyone in the long run. (more…)
I'm a full time music student at the moment, and I'm loving learning how to write songs, perform in front of people and express myself through music. Music is great because it deals with both the analytical and emotional side of our brain. [caption id="attachment_2994" align="alignright" width="200"] Becoming a rock star isn't all riffs and distortion. There's conflict with other musicians to navigate too.[/caption] However, the irrational nature of emotions means that they don't always arise just when we want them to. Most of us are still carrying unhealed emotional baggage from our past which can get triggered in what might otherwise seem fairly innocuous situations. This can make dealing with unexpected upsets challenging both in ourselves and in other people. In yesterday's guitar class, I got triggered by my teacher's response to what I though was a fairly intelligent question about whether the best way to improvise over a chord sequence in a major key would be by using the associated relative minor scale. My engineering brain thought that this would lead to less potential dissonance; but for any other budding musicians out there the answer turns out to be No: you use the minor pentatonic scale of the same key. (more…)
I recently joined a men's group which now meets at my house once a fortnight. The idea of joining such a group was suggested to me a few years ago by a mentor of mine and they're highly regarded in the men's work movement and in books like Steve Biddulph's excellent book Manhood. A few years back I started hearing about them all over the place and when I start hearing about an idea from multiple sources, I begin paying attention. [caption id="attachment_2838" align="alignright" width="300"] You don't need to be alone in your loneliness.[/caption] It's taken a few attempts to find a group that really works for me; this is my third men's group in fact. The first one didn't meet often enough to really get traction, and some of the participants seemed so stuck in their own ways that I found the meetings very frustrating. We spent tremendous amounts of time on situations that had seemingly trivial solutions, like one guy who was in a lengthy and expensive legal battle with his sister. Even on the basis of his telling of his side of the story, we all thought he owed her an apology rather than more litigation. He didn't see it, and instead wanted our moral support for continuing to attack her in the courts over a dodgy property deal that he had engineered. I didn't enjoy being around guys who were wasting their energy on crap like that. (more…)
If you're anything like me, you feel self-conscious in front of other people. Last time I caught an airplane, I went to the front of the plane to use the toilet right behind the cockpit, and had to wait at the front because it was already occupied. I felt that rush of shame on realizing that the other passengers could see me waiting. Somehow in my head, I imagined them thinking the worst; even though they probably weren't thinking about me at all. In situations like this I like to pretend that other people are always thinking great things like “Wow, he's awesome!” when they look at me, and while that's helpful, it hasn't entirely made the anxiety go away. One of my favorite hobbies is playing music, and it recently gave me the opportunity to confront this fear head-on. I've been playing guitar for around 6 years now, and I can strum up a decent tune on my own or playing with friends. But I get nervous playing in public; I feel anxious and my mind wanders through a series of stressful thoughts like “I'm crap!”, “I'll mess it up”, “They (whoever is listening) won't like it”, “They won't like the song I've chosen”, “My singing sounds bad” etc etc. It's exhausting! The first time I played guitar for an audience was in my guitar class, and although I was nervous it went really well. The teacher wanted us to have a good experience playing in front of people, and the best way to conquer the fear was to play in front of a friendly crowd who were all in the same boat as beginner guitarists. The next time I played in front of an audience was in a comedy club, doing a variation of American Pie with humorous lyrics. I was so nervous that my left hand couldn't make the chord shapes, and the anxiety got worse the longer I played. One of the guys in the audience yelled out “You've killed a great song!” Damn hecklers! Damn anxiety! Damn damn damn damn damn! It was a few years before I wanted to play in front of an audience again. (more…)
Let’s have a bit of a chat about a massive topic that undermines self-confidence and that is called shame. And in addition to just talking about it, I reckon that there’s a book you should read about it, which is this one: It’s called Healing The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw, and it’s an absolute classic in the area of dealing with this nasty substance called toxic shame. http://youtu.be/jSjTSPWDITs (more…)
Hi, I'm Graham. I had 18 years of formal education - that's 12 years of primary and high school, and then another six years at university studying engineering - and during that time, I learnt a lot about how to think but very little about how to feel or how my emotions worked. In fact, I can't remember in that entire time a single class where I sat down and had a teacher teach me how my emotions work. Now, possibly maybe in art classes or in music classes or maybe even in English they might've come close, but really nothing all that direct and concrete. And that's a shame because, fundamentally as humans, we're all driven by our emotions. All our behavior is an attempt to either move towards pleasure or move away from pain. So emotions are absolutely key to getting what we want in life. They're also the key to a successful relationship, especially with women. So in the rest of this article, I'm going to give you a quick introduction into how your emotions work. https://youtu.be/sgPUXEQnA2Y (more…)
Hey there, it’s Graham here. Now, if you’re interested in making some serious inroads into boosting your self-confidence, then you’ve come to the right place because what I want to do is talk about the number 1 factor that undermines our self-confidence the most. And it’s an interesting one because very, very few people are even prepared to talk about it. So you’re probably wondering, “Well, what is it?” Well, it’s very simple. In one word, the problem is shame. Now, you probably recognize shame as a feeling of embarrassment or as a feeling of inhibition that holds you back from doing things sometimes, and it’s often accompanied by the thought in your head of “What are people going to think? If I do what I want to do, if I act on my impulses, then what are people going to think?” http://youtu.be/lzpAVL9TBNs (more…)
Many of us guys lack a basic emotional literacy; we have physical sensations when we're feeling something, but we often don't know how to identify what we're feeling, nor are we able to recognise emotions in other people. Being able to identify emotions is the basis of empathy, which is a core communication skill. In short, most of us don't understand how our emotions work. Simply learning to identify and express the following basic emotions will improve your relationships dramatically: (more…)
One of the biggest destroyers of our self-esteem is shame, and one of the most powerful processes I've ever come across for healing the wounds of toxic shame in an intensive course is the Path Of Love process.
In fact, Path Of Love deals with more than just shame: it's a full-blown spiritual and emotional healing experience that left me more able to accept love into my life. I recommend it in The Confident Man Program Guide because I've done it twice and each time I've found it tremendously healing.
I'm a big fan of Brené Brown's TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability. I keep coming back to watch it again every few months, and it never fails to move me each time I do. It reminds me that authenticity, connection and vulnerability are the keys to freedom while guilt, fear, shame and disconnection are the bars of the jail cell in which I've lived so much of my life. If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend you watch it now.
And then watch this awesome follow-up titled Listening To Shame where Brené talks about the impact on her life of having the first talk go viral. After telling the conference of her research-induced breakdown (a.k.a. spiritual enlightenment), the video went viral with four million hits on the Internet. She went into a meltdown and didn't leave the house for three days because of a vulnerability hangover. That's the feeling that we get when we reveal something we're ashamed of in front of other people. It's the reason we avoid revealing our true selves to others: we know there's likely to be an unpleasant emotional reaction within us at the thought of other people knowing the parts of us and our story that we don't like.… Continue reading…