Journey into the Forest

The hustlers of today go by different names, engineer, data scientist, influencer or Chief of Something. We are always asked to be correct and make the most efficient decisions, based on statistics and user reviews. We are directed to make more and more, all with the hope of the American Dream in our sights. We want to be thought leaders and market shifters, but perhaps these titles are only facets of a larger personality. What else defines the modern man? What other components of our masculinity require bravery and deserve admiration?

American men are taught to be violent and aggressive in order to win. We are not traditionally taught to be soft or loving, compassionate or gentle. We are not taught to have patience or courage in matters of the heart. We can only learn these traits along the way, in a local coffee shop, on the subway, in the office, or simply with a group a friends. Modern Men are responsible for their environment and take their own actions into account.

Growing up with role models that had control issues, I also developed control issues. I struggled the most with my relationships and the challenges of my overactive nervous system. Anything overwhelming could send me into a spin where I could lash out at those around me or those who cared for me. After repeating this cycle a few times with partners and relatives, I realized I needed to find some help. I sought out a men’s group. These men helped me find peace with myself, cultivate my identify and develop the courage to confide in other men. I had always felt attacked and belittled by men who followed the old cultural paradigm, but this group was different. These modern men within our men’s circle actually had the capacity and skills to allow me to address the feelings that triggered me. Particularly with the ManKind Project, I found strength in my ability to speak my truth and be vulnerable around other men. It was empowering and incredibly exciting to witness strengths that were previously hidden. It was like a new found superpower.

I used this new power to work with challenging emotions. Anger can dominate the endocrine system and encourage the psyche to behave violently. Unprocessed anger is dangerous to oneself and others. When  the ego finds itself in an unfavorable condition, anger is often the response. Furthermore, it is usually a pattern that has appeared before. In order to work with our anger, modern men find a way to create space in the impulses of our nervous system. We are learning to feel anger without reacting to it. We are creating different associations in our limbic systems and an opportunity to develop improved patterns. Modern man can accept when we are, or have been, wrong and find ways to adjust in order to empower ourselves. This can be difficult and it requires courage from within, but by supporting each other and working together we can bring healing to the collective wounds of masculinity.

Modern men are humble, quick to assist, and helpful; yet we are also vigilant and decisive. We can be both flexible and rooted. Dynamic and stable. Modern men value patience and calmness as assets to manage other intense emotions. We are not afraid to look someone in the eye because we know that the ensuing feeling of vulnerability is an element of strength.

 
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Shaun Bernhardt


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