Where are the really great guys?

We at MOD Love have had considerable success engaging our audience on Social Media with inspirational quotes and sage advice from philosophers, poets, and spiritual leaders. Whether we’re quoting Rumi, Williamson, Tolle, or Dyer, our fans really connect with the truths revealed by these great thinkers and feelers. But a common question from our female listeners is, “where do I find guys who live these truths? Where are the great guys?” They want to know where the emotionally ready, spiritually mature, self-aware men are. Well, I’ll tell you.

I don’t know.

diogenes great manWhat? But, Steve, we’ve come to your blog and listened to your Straight Talk with Steve segment looking for advice and all you’re going to give me is “I don’t know”?

Well, lemme ‘splain. And, please, stick around to the end of the article, as I have some questions for you and I really want feedback.

I have a theory about who some of these guys are. Well, it’s less than a theory (yes, scientists, I do know the term theory gets horribly abused). It’s more of a hypothesis. It has borne itself out in my own experiences and dealings with other men, but I don’t know if that’s because of the circle I find myself in. Here it is.

wise man thinkingI think many of these men – men of wisdom and self-awareness – have gone through a period of major adjustment and change. They have been forced to challenge the beliefs they were raised with and develop their own plan for navigating life. Many of them will not be following the religion they were raised with, for instance. They have faced serious challenges in life that couldn’t be addressed by just doing what they were taught as a child. They have had a crisis and had to deal with it.

This doesn’t mean they did it all on their own. For instance, I had considerable help on my own path, though I was the one who had to take the first step – seeking assistance. My own journey was this:

After surviving years of sexual abuse as a teenager by a priest at my church, I ceased being an active church member once I went away to school. Over many years I found the religious teachings didn’t work for me, but I didn’t immediately become an atheist. I just stopped practicing religion. Many years and a failed relationship later, I found myself having to confront the secret I had kept about my abuse. You see, my family found out. So, after many hugs and tears, and enough blame passed around, I saw a therapist. While this was a turning point, it was just a start. I wasn’t really ready to deal with all the issues, but just taking the first step was key.

Fast-forward a few more years, a handful of self-help books, and a marriage that wasn’t working and I went back to therapy. It was then I got connected with a men’s group being hosted by a Unitarian organization. Let me tell you, that was a gut-wrenching, soul-searching week and I learned a lot about myself and about men, in general. I heard tales from these men that made me realize that there are a lot of guys who have been through what I consider far worse than what I experienced. I also realized they were equally unsure on how to deal with the pain. Our society has not prepared men for dealing with the hardships in a way that provides healing. It tells us to tough out the pain – cover it up. I’m no doctor, but that’s not the same as healing.

Very soon after coming back from my men’s retreat I found myself going through an overdue divorce and an intense self-discovery process. Such a process entailed making many mistakes. In the words of Frank Sinatra:

having regrets“Regrets, I’ve had a few…”

I believe we learn far more from our failures than our victories, however, and I can’t say I’d do anything differently, despite wishing I could have caused less pain to the people who loved me – because I love where I am right now! Once I moved to Charleston to start my new life I got involved in some spiritual, if not-quite religious, meetups. By then I was firmly in the atheist camp, though philosophically Buddhist. Many of the like-minded individuals I also found to be spiritual in some form, and not the form they were raised in.

Thus, my hypothesis is that, given how many man have actually had similarly traumatic periods in their lives – alcoholic and/or abusive parents; physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; alcoholic or drug-using children; painful divorces – those men who have at least begun the work to heal are the ones our female listeners are looking for. They have acknowledged that they are wounded and won’t let that be their defining trait.

So, ladies, my question for you is: Where have you found men like this? Maybe you’re friends with them but they don’t attract you romantically (nothing wrong with that – they could be perfect for someone else). Maybe they’re in a relationship already but you recognize those admirable traits in them. Please share where you think they’re gathering.

gathering of great men
Ok, maybe not these men.

Personally, I think you’ll find them in multicultural or spiritual gatherings, or at least more ecumenical ones. Groups that are open and welcoming to people of all beliefs (or disbeliefs) and backgrounds. Here in Charleston there’s a Meetup.com group called the Charleston Metaphysical Group. I’m sure there are groups like it all over the country. My experience is that the men attending these meetings are the ones willing to look inward at their own beliefs and feelings and put effort into understanding them and into being more self-aware.

For the guys reading this, if you’re thinking maybe it’s time to deal with some old emotional baggage but you don’t know how to start, I’ll say this: Just start. Anywhere. Grab some books. Skip the Starbucks for a couple months and pay for a handful of therapy sessions. Make use of your health insurance if you’re covered. Look for a men’s group. Heck, start your own.

There’s this book called Tending the Fire: The Ritual Men’s Group that has three things going for it:

  1. It’s filled with suggestions on how to start a men’s group from scratch
  2. It provides a wonderful glimpse into men’s work
  3. It’s very inexpensive

Grab a copy (I’ve even provided an affiliate link) and see what you think. I’ll be honest, I’ve been waffling on whether to start a group of my own and the only thing preventing me from doing it is fear. That’s right – I’m afraid of failure, probably like most of you. But what we’re talking about is conquering our fears, aren’t we? Instead of being afraid of our feelings, or some external judgment, we should be facing them, should we not? So, alright, as I’m typing up this blog post I’ll put it out there: if you’re in the Charleston area and want to participate in one of these groups, here I am. Let’s do it.

Back to the ladies. Bottom line is that these guys are out there, although they may be small in numbers. Many of them are probably middle-aged, though I met some fascinating younger men in the group I attended, and are still feeling their way on the road to self-discovery. They – ok, we – are still making mistakes, still dealing with the lessons of our youth that don’t serve us so well, but we’ve taken that first step. We’re probably not hanging around the single’s bars so much. If we’re serious about self-improvement, we’re taking classes, we’re hanging out in discussion groups, we’re listening to MOD Love and taking notes!

Be sure to ask yourself if you’ve also done the work, too. Have you just read the books or have you taken active steps to integrate their lessons into your daily living? If you’ve been to a therapist, have you done the exercises they no doubt gave you? Have you written in a journal? Have you tried meditation? Are you being the kind of person one of these men will be attracted to?

Just as it has taken many decades to empower women after a very long period of repression, it will take considerable time to return men to a mental and emotional place of strength after many years of misguided societal norms. It’s something we’ll have to work through together.

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