Usually, friends are workmates
Normally, male friendships are (mostly) originated at the workplace and once they change jobs, the ‘friends’ lose contact, and new ‘friends’ emerge. The conversations are always the same, with the same kind of laughs and jokes. It is full of chit chat (or shit chat). It is very superficial with a great hint of competition among them - even if they are close and best friends.
The creation of a men’s group, where the men meet in a weekly or fortnightly basis, is a good idea to break this cycle. It will require character and perseverance. Once the men understand and experience the process, a great bond is created generating a strong friendship based on authenticity. It is important to know this process is slow and takes time.
Lack of real friendships
It is very common for men to find themselves without real friends after the 4th decade of life. Meaning: friends where they feel at home and at peace with themselves when they are together, without the competition feeling around them. In general, by the age of 60, the number of real male friendships are reduced to almost two or three (a conservative assumption). As consequence, men start to feel isolated, lonely, discouraged, more inclined to develop the symptoms of depression and having suicidal thoughts.
In this article, it will be explored some ideas on how men can reach out other males with the intention to create a safe environment for real friendship be developed.
It is important to clarify that the idea of create a man’s group mentioned here will be for men above 30 ys/old, which is the age where real questions start to kick in , and the anxiety of disclose fears and insecurities are alarmed. These warnings make most men suppress this kind of ‘talk’ believing one day will be solved by itself. It doesn’t.
Felipe Oliveira is a clinical counsellor and TRTP certified practitioner for men to live Authentic Life™.
To read about Lessons from a Tree, click here.
The suggestions will be based in three ways of men’s group: 1 - 30-30-30 Meetings; 2 - The way of council; 3 - Meeting with Sharing, Questions & Reflections. This is just a brief idea of how these groups are running. Feel free to do your own search and create your style of men’s group.
1. 30-30-30 Meeting (based on Richard Roh’s book from Wild Man to Wise Man)The number 30 means 30 minutes for each part of the meeting. Part 1: where am I right now?; Part 2: sharing on the select team; Part 3: what I need to change/do/improve in this week/fortnight/month. The time is based according to the size of the group, which in this case the idea is for six men. As you can see it helps men to share about the present moment, hear about a common subject and reflect on self-improvement followed by action.
2. The Way of Council: Normally it happens in a circle, where a ‘talking’ peace stayed in the centre and each member of the group will have a chance to pick up the talking peace and share. At the beginning it might have a few minutes of meditation to bring the mind, the body and the spirit to the present moment, followed by dedications. Each dedication, a candle can be lighted as a form to invite the sacredness of the moment. The main guidelines are very simple: a) speak from the heart; b) listening from the heart; c) be spontaneous when share (no rehearsal); d) being of lean expression (speak the eye fillet of your heart). It demands from the men a great level of attention and quietness not much experienced in our society.
3. Meeting with Sharing, Questions & Reflections. Similar to The Way of Council, but allowing for one question, comment or reflection, with the intention to take the man deeper on his journey. This style can be quite confronting and uncomfortable, as we (men) don’t like to hear/see our dark sides, and this is an essential element of this kind of group.
Intentionality & Genuineness
This is just a brief idea of three kinds of groups. New styles can be always created. The most important element of any effective men’s group is intentionality and genuineness. In my own personal journey I have been in all these three types. The ones I am most engaging at the moment is the Way of Council and the last one that allows Question & Reflections. I must emphasise that the last one must be done with some professional counsellors or experienced men in group process as it can lead to some really edgy moments. It can be highly profitable for the soul, IF (and it is a huge condition) the men are willing to work on, otherwise it can bring more damage than good.
In general, I highly recommend men’s group for males above 30s (especially). It invites them to deal with the feelings of vulnerabilities and show them they are not alone in the stoic false idea that all men must be. The members need to be accountable to each other and to the rules of the group. It requires a certain degree of effort, but it is worthy. In case of difficulties to create your own group, you can always join the existent ones.
Photo by Steve Freeman - 2016 CFMA Retreat
Centre for Men, ManKind Project, Real Education & Men's Wellbeing
The most popular organisations on men’s groups are Centre for Men (CFMA), ManKind Project, Real Education and Men’s Wellbeing. Each one has its own style of group processing. I have small connections with ManKind Project and with Men’s Wellbeing. I would say that ManKind Project has a highly confrontational style and strongly edgy. My contact with Men’s Wellbeing was a few years ago and it can be confrontational with some spaces for deep meditation and connection with nature. I have heard recently about Real Education, and I know they have been around for a while and it’s famous for their retreat for men and for women separately and together. It was with CFMA that my personal journey started, therefore I am more inclined towards this one. CFMA runs men’s group through the Way of Council where the men himself are invited to do his own work without external pressure. The main action happens through an invitation towards the Authentic Male Journey, also called Sacred Male Journey. Nothing is forced, the men can always say no, and the invitation will be always knocking at their door. It is strong in storytelling and listening attentively with a powerful connection with nature. All these organisations run their transformation and powerful men’s retreats - men’s rites of passage - for all ages.
Check them out for yourself. More than anything, if you are feeling men’s group is what you need, what I want you to do is to Connect and Engage with this deep desire. It is worthy.
Photo by Steve Freeman - 2016 CFMA Retreat
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