Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Psychology Today - Male Virginity Myths

This is an excellent article on the myths that plague young men when it comes to sex. If you have a teen son, or know a young man in his teens, please talk with him about these issues. This stuff is horrible.

When I was a teen, I felt the pressure from my peers to be sexually with as many girls as possible, with no concern for their feelings. So I did. And years later I felt terrible about my behavior and the girls whose feelings were hurt when they realized I did not really like them in the way they hoped I did.

Strangely enough, the girls I really liked, I never slept with - because I wanted a "real" relationship not just a one-night stand.

Male Virginity Myths

Is Your Virginal Teen Son Suffering in Silence?

Our culture promotes the myths that all boys want to lose their virginity to the first willing girl and that virginal teen boys are somehow ridiculous; they deserve teasing or shaming. Movies like "American Pie" and "Sex Drive," reinforce the myth that teen boys who have not had sex with a partner are socially inept.

Of the hundreds of boys ages 14 to 21 interviewed about male virginity, twenty-eight percent claimed they were depressed after giving their virginity to a girl they discovered did not care about them. The girls only wanted sex or the bragging rights to claim they had bagged a virgin, a trend by girls called "V Card collecting." One boy reported self-mutilating for a year trying to resolve his feelings of regret. A few boys reported they lost their virginity when intoxicated to girls who mistook their body's normal arousal reactions as consent. The boys had negative emotions after the event. "Girls and society in general don't understand male virginity. If you are still a virgin at 21 you are considered a weirdo," claimed a young man from Australia. A young man from the United States claimed, "Girls and society don't understand male virginity. It's the least discussed topic. It's taboo. "

Fathers often tell me the boys who feel bad after losing their virginity are whiners, sissies or homosexuals. It is no wonder they suffer in silence. It's time to break the taboo about male virginity so boys can talk about the topic without ridicule. Talk to your son while he is still a virgin. The birds and bees talk can be embarrassing but it's important that parents take an active role in teaching their children about sex. Sex education from school systems, the internet, peer groups and trial and error isn't enough for our sons or our daughters. Parents should talk about emotions and sex, not just the actual biology of the act. When we reduce boys to just their plumbing, we diminish them as human beings.

It is important for parents to understand the changing cultural shifts. Girls are becoming more sexually aggressive. Many fathers reported that this shift will make it easier for their sons. Not according to the boys interviewed. Most of them claimed they are confused by the saturation of sex in society and yearn for a return of romance. The majority of them wished that girls would go back to being more lady-like so they could go back to being more gentlemanly. It's not healthy to assume boys are basking in the joy of easy to get sex. Nor is it healthy to assume all boys can't wait to shed their virginity to just any girl. We need to teach our children to respect themselves and each other. That means we stop believing that male virgins are weirdos we should ridicule and we teach our daughters that collecting V-Cards can be emotionally damaging to a boy.


Feminism and the Male Brain by Naomi Wolf

I never fully bought into the feminist claims that there were no real differences between men and women - all I had to do was observe my parents to see that there were some differences. As my education in gender studies has progressed, I have some to understand that there are serious differences in out brains, and that some of these are essential to being male or female and cannot be transcended. However, others are malleable and limiting.

Here Naomi Wolf takes a look at the research in this realm.

NEW YORK – North Americans of my generation grew up with the 1970’s children’s record “Free to Be...You and Me,” on which Rosey Grier, an immense former football star, sang “It’s Alright to Cry.” The message: girls could be tough, and boys were allowed not to be.

For almost 40 years, that era’s Western feminist critique of rigid sex-role stereotyping has prevailed. In many ways, it has eroded or even eliminated the kind of arbitrary constraints that turned peaceable boys into aggressive men and stuck ambitious girls in low-paying jobs.

Feminists understandably have often shied away from scientific evidence that challenges this critique of sex roles. After all, because biology-based arguments about gender difference have historically been used to justify women’s subjugation, women have been reluctant to concede any innate difference, lest it be used against them. But, in view of recent scientific discoveries, has feminist resistance to accepting any signs of innate gender difference only created new biases?

The feminist critique, for example, has totally remade elementary-level education, where female decision-makers prevail: the construction of male hierarchies in the schoolyard is often redirected nowadays for fear of “bullying,” with boys and girls alike expected to “share” and “process” their emotions. But many educators have begun to argue that such intervention in what may be a hardwired aspect of “boy-ness” can lead to boys’ academic underperformance relative to girls, and to more frequent diagnoses of behavioral problems, attention deficit disorder, and so on.

And education is just the beginning. An entire academic discipline emerged out of the wholesale critique of the male tendency to create hierarchy, engage in territoriality, and be drawn to conflict. When I was in college, the feminist solution to “patriarchy” was an imagined world without hierarchy, where people verbalized all day long and created emotional bonds.

This critique of “masculinity” also dramatically affected intimate relationships: women were encouraged to express their dissatisfaction with men’s refusal to “share” their inner lives. Women complained of not being heard, of men disappearing after work to tinker in the garage or zone out in front of the TV. But, however heartfelt, such complaints assumed that men choose all of their behavior.

Now a spate of scientific analyses, based on brain imaging technology and new anthropological and evolutionary discoveries, suggests that we may have had our heads in the sand, and that we must be willing to grapple with what seem to be at least some genuine, measurable differences between the sexes.

The most famous of these studies, anthropologist Helen Fisher’s The Anatomy of Love , explains the evolutionary impetus for human tendencies in courtship, marriage, adultery, divorce, and childrearing. Some of her findings are provocative: it seems, for example, that we are hard-wired for serial monogamy and must work very hard to maintain pair-bonds; that highly orgasmic women enjoy an evolutionary advantage; and that flirtation among primates closely resembles the way young men and women in a bar show their sexual interest today.

Moreover, in her description of our evolution, Fisher notes that males who could tolerate long periods of silence (waiting for animals while in hunt mode) survived to pass on their genes, thus genetically selecting to prefer “space.” By contrast, females survived best by bonding with others and building community, since such groups were needed to gather roots, nuts, and berries, while caring for small children.

Reading Fisher, one is more inclined to leave boys alone to challenge one another and test their environment, and to accept that, as she puts it, nature designed men and women to collaborate for survival. “Collaboration” implies free will and choice; even primate males do not succeed by dominating or controlling females. In her analysis, it serves everyone for men and women to share their sometimes different but often complementary strengths – a conclusion that seems reassuring, not oppressive.

What Could He Be Thinking? , by Michael Gurian, a consultant in the field of neurobiology, takes this set of insights further. Gurian argues that men’s brains can actually feel invaded and overwhelmed by too much verbal processing of emotion, so that men’s need to zone out or do something mechanical rather than emote is often not a rejection of their spouses, but a neural need.

Gurian even posits that the male brain actually can’t “see” dust or laundry piling up as the female brain often can, which explains why men and women tend to perform household tasks in different ways. Men often can’t hear women’s lower tones, and their brains, unlike women’s, have a “rest” state (he actually is sometimes thinking about “nothing”!).

Moreover, Gurian argues that men tend to rear children differently from women for similarly neurological reasons, encouraging more risk-taking and independence and with less awareness of the details of their nurture. One can see the advantages to children of having both parenting styles. He urges women to try side-by-side activities, not only face-to-face verbalization, to experience closeness with their mates.

Somehow, all this is liberating rather than infuriating. So much that enrages women, or leads them to feel rejected or unheard, may not reflect men’s conscious neglect or even sexism, but simply their brains’ wiring! According to Gurian, if women accept these biological differences and work around them in relationships, men respond with great appreciation and devotion (often expressed nonverbally). Women who have embraced these findings report that relations with the men in their lives become much smoother and, paradoxically, more intimate.

None of this means that men and women should not try to adjust to each other's wishes, ask for shared responsibility with housework, or expect to be “heard.” But it may mean we can understand each other a bit better and be more patient as we seek communication.

Nor does recent scientific research imply that men (or women) are superior, much less justify invidious discrimination. But it does suggest that a more pluralistic society, open to all kinds of difference, can learn, work, and love better.


Monday, June 29, 2009

How We Perceive Male and Female Emotions

Last week Sharon Begley (at Newsweek) took on evolutionary psychology, this week she takes on emotions in men and women, and how they differ. She takes a look at the science that supports - or fails to support - the stereotype that men are less emotional than women.

For the record, I don't buy that men are less emotional - we just express emotions differently (if we haven't been programmed not to feel or express our emotions at all).
Sharon Begley
Face to Face

She's emotional. He's having a bad day.

Jun 25, 2009

When participants in an experiment looked at photos of women's and men's faces looking sad, afraid, angry, or disgusted, with a sentence beneath the image purporting to explain the emotion ("buried a family pet" for a sad face, for instance, and "was threatened by an attacker" for a fearful one), they offered starkly different explanations for the emotions: that women in the photos felt sad, angry or afraid because they were "emotional," but the pictured men felt those emotions because they were "having a bad day"—even when the expressions and their explanation was identical.

So report psychologists Lisa Feldman Barrett of Boston College and Eliza Bliss-Moreau, a postdoctoral fellow at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, in a paper that will be published in the journal Emotion. (A version of the study was presented last year at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.) In other words, he's angry because of context: he was cut off by another driver, for instance, or because he was elbowed in an elevator. She's angry because of disposition, personality, temperament—she's emotional. And he's fearful because he's reacting to the situation—he found a rattlesnake in the house, say, or was trapped in a burning building. She's afraid because that's her nature.

The popular press, as well as the scientific literature, is full of claims that women are the more emotional sex. Books argue that women are emotionally complex and expressive, while men are stoic, better able to keep their feelings in check, as the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus credo has it. Lately, this sex difference has been "explained" by women supposedly evolving brains that are wired for more emotionality, as the 2006 book The Female Brain claimed. And as we saw in last year's Democratic primaries, a healthy chunk of the electorate believes that women are too emotional to hold high office. No wonder, as Barrett and Bliss-Moreau write, "women continue to be under-represented in positions of economic and political power that require a level head and a steady hand. Jobs that require rational decision-making and high levels of performance in demanding circumstances would presumably be unsuitable for those who cannot keep their head under pressure."

When participants in an experiment looked at photos of women's and men's faces looking sad, afraid, angry, or disgusted, with a sentence beneath the image purporting to explain the emotion ("buried a family pet" for a sad face, for instance, and "was threatened by an attacker" for a fearful one), they offered starkly different explanations for the emotions: that women in the photos felt sad, angry or afraid because they were "emotional," but the pictured men felt those emotions because they were "having a bad day"—even when the expressions and their explanation was identical.

So report psychologists Lisa Feldman Barrett of Boston College and Eliza Bliss-Moreau, a postdoctoral fellow at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, in a paper that will be published in the journal Emotion. (A version of the study was presented last year at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.) In other words, he's angry because of context: he was cut off by another driver, for instance, or because he was elbowed in an elevator. She's angry because of disposition, personality, temperament—she's emotional. And he's fearful because he's reacting to the situation—he found a rattlesnake in the house, say, or was trapped in a burning building. She's afraid because that's her nature.

The popular press, as well as the scientific literature, is full of claims that women are the more emotional sex. Books argue that women are emotionally complex and expressive, while men are stoic, better able to keep their feelings in check, as the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus credo has it. Lately, this sex difference has been "explained" by women supposedly evolving brains that are wired for more emotionality, as the 2006 book The Female Brain claimed. And as we saw in last year's Democratic primaries, a healthy chunk of the electorate believes that women are too emotional to hold high office. No wonder, as Barrett and Bliss-Moreau write, "women continue to be under-represented in positions of economic and political power that require a level head and a steady hand. Jobs that require rational decision-making and high levels of performance in demanding circumstances would presumably be unsuitable for those who cannot keep their head under pressure."

Yet the empirical evidence for the belief that women are more emotional is skimpy. When people are asked which sex expresses emotions more, the majority choose women. But when the movement of facial muscles is measured by an electromyograph, some studies find no sex difference. That was an early clue that differences in emotional expression might be in the eye of the beholder: when a woman does it, it's considered emotional; when a man makes the exact same expression, it's not.

To see why people continue to believe that women are the more emotional sex, the scientists devised their straightforward experiment. They showed 48 men and women (college students) pictures of faces depicting anger, sadness, fear or disgust for three seconds. Beneath each picture was a sentence describing a plausible reason for that emotion—the rattlesnake or road-rage examples I gave above. The participants then saw the faces without the sentences and pressed either of two keys to indicate whether the person in the picture was "emotional" or "having a bad day."

Both men and women attributed women's emotional expressions more to their emotional nature and men's to the situation—despite being given situational information to explain every face. The discrepancy was greatest for expressions of sadness, followed by fear, then anger, and then disgust, where there was no sex difference in explanations of emotion. "The stereotype of the overly emotional female is grounded in the belief that women express emotion because they are emotional creatures, but men express emotion because the situation warrants it," they conclude. "Regardless of whether women are objectively more emotionally expressive, people attribute their emotional behaviors to a more emotional nature."

A study published last year in Psychological Sciencefound something similar—namely, that women's angry expressions are attributed to their emotional nature ("she is an angry person" and "not in control" of her emotions) whereas men's identical expressions are explained by external circumstances (a job interviewer got him mad). As the new study shows, this belief stems not from what men and women actually do but from the explanations given for their behaviors. What we believe determines what we see.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Death of Macho

An interesting and hopeful article from Foreign Policy on the decline of masculine dominance in the public sphere and the rise of a more balanced sharing of power between the sexes.

The Death of Macho

Manly men have been running the world forever. But the Great Recession is changing all that, and it will alter the course of history.

BY REIHAN SALAM | JUNE 22, 2009

The era of male dominance is coming to an end.

Seriously.

For years, the world has been witnessing a quiet but monumental shift of power from men to women. Today, the Great Recession has turned what was an evolutionary shift into a revolutionary one. The consequence will be not only a mortal blow to the macho men’s club called finance capitalism that got the world into the current economic catastrophe; it will be a collective crisis for millions and millions of working men around the globe.

The death throes of macho are easy to find if you know where to look. Consider, to start, the almost unbelievably disproportionate impact that the current crisis is having on men—so much so that the recession is now known to some economists and the more plugged-in corners of the blogosphere as the “he-cession.” More than 80 percent of job losses in the United States since November have fallen on men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the numbers are broadly similar in Europe, adding up to about 7 million more out-of-work men than before the recession just in the United States and Europe as economic sectors traditionally dominated by men (construction and heavy manufacturing) decline further and faster than those traditionally dominated by women (public-sector employment, healthcare, and education). All told, by the end of 2009, the global recession is expected to put as many as 28 million men out of work worldwide.

Related

Good Riddance
Why macho had to go.
By Valerie Hudson

Things will only get worse for men as the recession adds to the pain globalization was already causing. Between 28 and 42 million more jobs in the United States are at risk for outsourcing, Princeton economist Alan Blinder estimates. Worse still, men are falling even further behind in acquiring the educational credentials necessary for success in the knowledge-based economies that will rule the post-recession world. Soon, there will be three female college graduates for every two males in the United States, and a similarly uneven outlook in the rest of the developed world.

Of course, macho is a state of mind, not just a question of employment status. And as men get hit harder in the he-cession, they’re even less well-equipped to deal with the profound and long-term psychic costs of job loss. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “the financial strain of unemployment” has significantly more consequences on the mental health of men than on that of women. In other words, be prepared for a lot of unhappy guys out there—with all the negative consequences that implies.

As the crisis unfolds, it will increasingly play out in the realm of power politics. Consider the electoral responses to this global catastrophe that are starting to take shape. When Iceland’s economy imploded, the country’s voters did what no country has done before: Not only did they throw out the all-male elite who oversaw the making of the crisis, they named the world’s first openly lesbian leader as their prime minister. It was, said Halla Tomasdottir, the female head of one of Iceland’s few remaining solvent banks, a perfectly reasonable response to the “penis competition” of male-dominated investment banking. “Ninety-nine percent went to the same school, they drive the same cars, they wear the same suits and they have the same attitudes. They got us into this situation—and they had a lot of fun doing it,” Tomasdottir complained to Der Spiegel. Soon after, tiny, debt-ridden Lithuania took a similar course, electing its first woman president: an experienced economist with a black belt in karate named Dalia Grybauskaite. On the day she won, Vilnius’s leading newspaper bannered this headline: “Lithuania has decided: The country is to be saved by a woman.”

Although not all countries will respond by throwing the male bums out, the backlash is real—and it is global. The great shift of power from males to females is likely to be dramatically accelerated by the economic crisis, as more people realize that the aggressive, risk-seeking behavior that has enabled men to entrench their power—the cult of macho—has now proven destructive and unsustainable in a globalized world.

Indeed, it’s now fair to say that the most enduring legacy of the Great Recession will not be the death of Wall Street. It will not be the death of finance. And it will not be the death of capitalism. These ideas and institutions will live on. What will not survive is macho. And the choice men will have to make, whether to accept or fight this new fact of history, will have seismic effects for all of humanity—women as well as men.

For several years now it has been an established fact that, as behavioral finance economists Brad Barber and Terrance Odean memorably demonstrated in 2001, of all the factors that might correlate with overconfident investment in financial markets—age, marital status, and the like—the most obvious culprit was having a Y chromosome. And now it turns out that not only did the macho men of the heavily male-dominated global finance sector create the conditions for global economic collapse, but they were aided and abetted by their mostly male counterparts in government whose policies, whether consciously or not, acted to artificially prop up macho.

One such example is the housing bubble, which has now exploded most violently in the West. That bubble actually represented an economic policy that disguised the declining prospects of blue-collar men. In the United States, the booming construction sector generated relatively high-paying jobs for the relatively less-skilled men who made up 97.5 percent of its workforce—$814 a week on average. By contrast, female-dominated jobs in healthcare support pay $510 a week, while retail jobs pay about $690 weekly. The housing bubble created nearly 3 million more jobs in residential construction than would have existed otherwise, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other, mostly male-dominated, industries, such as real estate, cement production, truck transport, and architecture, saw big employment gains as well. These handsome construction wages allowed men to maintain an economic edge over women. When policymakers are asked why they didn’t act to stem the housing bubble’s inflation, they invariably cite the fact that the housing sector was a powerful driver of employment. Indeed, subsidizing macho had all kinds of benefits, and to puncture the housing bubble would have been political suicide.

And yet, the housing bubble is just the latest in a long string of efforts to prop up macho, the most powerful of which was the New Deal, as historian Gwendolyn Mink has argued. At the height of the Great Depression in 1933, 15 million Americans were unemployed out of a workforce that was roughly 75 percent male. This undermined the male breadwinner model of the family, and there was tremendous pressure to bring it back. The New Deal did just that by focusing on job creation for men. Insulating women from the market by keeping them in the home became a mark of status for men—a goal most fully realized in the postwar nuclear family (Rosie the Riveter was a blip). In this way, according to historian Stephanie Coontz, the Great Depression and the New Deal reinforced traditional gender roles: Women were promised economic security in exchange for the state’s entrenchment of male economic power.

Read the rest of the article.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Attachment Is Not Love

"We confuse attachment with love. Attachment is concerned with my needs, my happiness, while love is an unselfish attitude, concerned with the needs and happiness of others.... A relationship free of unrealistic grasping is free of disappointment, conflict, jealousy, and other problems, and is fertile ground for the growth of love and wisdom."

- Kathleen McDonald, "How to Meditate"



Friday, June 26, 2009

Andrew Klaven Thinks He Is a Manly Man

I found this article/film review by Andrew Klaven (who writes for the right-wing blogging outfit Pajamas Media) thanks to Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

Klaven uses a review of The Hangover to go on rant about the "girly men" he sees in America these days. He thinks most young men today are wimps and pussy-whipped, to use a non-pc phrase. We pick up his article here in the second paragraph.

American Nursery

Now, I know I’m not the first person to notice the squirrelly roles of men and women in these sorts of comedies, but they did get me to thinking. The guys are all children whose manhood consists exclusively in hell-raising. The women are either fun-loving party girls or grim, death-of-pleasure wife/mommies who seem ever ready to take their little menchildren by the ears and force them to wash the dishes while they stand by wagging their fingers. These dames remind me of a wonderful line in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night about “the American woman, aroused” whose “clean-sweeping irrational temper… had broken the moral back of a race and made a nursery out of a continent.”

A lot of critics get all huffy about this depiction of the sexes - read the silly little fellow who wrote the review in the New York Times by way of example. The standard line seems to be to blame it all on childish filmmakers pandering to adolescent audiences. But you know what? I suspect a lot of it is simple realism. More and more often I meet young guys just like this: overgrown kids who are their grim wives’ poodles. They sheepishly talk about getting a “pink pass,” or a “kitchen pass,” before they can leave the house. They can’t do this or that because their wives don’t like it. They “share” household and child-rearing tasks equally - which isn’t really equal at all because they don’t care about a clean house or a well-reared child anywhere near as much as their wives do. In short, each one seems set to spend his life taking orders from a perpetually dissatisfied Mrs. who sounds to me - forgive me but just speaking in all honesty - like a bloody shrike. Who can blame these poor shnooks if they go out and get drunk or laid or just plain divorced?

I’m the old-fashioned King of the Castle type: my wife knew it when she married me, she knows it now, and she knows where the door is if she gets sick of it. And you can curse me or consign me to Feminist Hell or whatever you want to do. But when you’re done, answer me this: why would a man get married under any other circumstances? I’m serious. What’s in it for him? I mean, marriage is a large sacrifice for a man. He gives up his right to sleep with a variety of partners, which is as basic an urge in men as having children is in women. He takes on responsibilities which will probably curtail both his work and his social life. If he doesn’t also acquire authority, gravitas, respect and, yes, mastery over his own home, what does he get? Companionship? Hey, stay single, dude, you’ll have a lot more money, and then you can buy companionship.

All right, I know, I’m a mean old man. But I’ve also been blissfully married for 30 years to a woman who wakes up singing. I think some of these young guys have been sold a bill of goods, I really do. I think they’ve been told what they’re supposed to be like and have sacrificed what they are like. Maybe their marriages are more “fair” than mine but just looking at them, I think they’re miserable. And I suspect, deep down, their wives are probably miserable too.

If you ask me, they’d be better off staying in Vegas.

WOW! John Wayne much?

The idea that men are little more than horn-dogs who make a huge sacrifice by settling down with a woman in marriage is so ass-backwards. So if he does settle down with a woman, he must be "king of his castle" to be happy? Klaven is what is wrong with immature men - the caveman mentality.

A mature man, a truly masculine man, is emotionally intelligent and has an open tender heart - being soft takes more strength than being a hardass manly man.

Greenwald takes Klaven to task for being representative of the Bush administration's cowboy mentality - sure, it is the same mindset. And sure he has a point.

I'm more concerned about what this represents in terms of how mainstream men view their masculinity in terms of relationships. Women in Klaven's world seem little more than tools of his needs - house cleaner, cook, mother to his offspring, sex toy. Maybe he is kind to his wife, and maybe he even loves her, but he says he isn't interested in "companionship" as a part of marriage.

Seriously?

I love my girlfriend, and I love that she is my best friend and companion. And I am not a man-child or a girly man. She is my soul-mate - and I am, as near as I can tell (ask my firends) a masculine man, a mature masculine man who is fully here, not living a two-dimensional John Wayne version of what a man is, like Klaven.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

When She Wants to "Talk," Man Up and Own Your Stuff

I used to hate to hear that frightening phrase, "We need to talk." My first thought was always, "Shit, NOW what did I do?"

Generally, it was something I had done, or not done. But I showed up, took responsibility to the best of my ability, and tried to the best of my ability to change my behavior if needed.

So I'm good with the message in this article.

I have one thing to ask in return of women (or same-sex partners): When it's time for a "talk," please be rational and have it sorted out in your head. If you are emotional and all over the place, bringing up old shit that has nothing to do with the current situation, I'm going to tune out pretty quickly.

So the deal is, you be clear and concise, and I'll own my shit. Deal?

Men: Own Your Crap

When Your Wife Wants To Talk, Do Not Avoid

In the Love Bytes blog two weeks ago [Guys Night Out (Part 1)], it was suggested to men that if we want a successful marriage, then we need to own our crap. I thought it might be valuable to give a little background to this assertion.

Arguably the foremost marriage expert in the world is a man named John Gottman. He was once asked: "If you could give just one piece of advice to men for the success of their marriages, what would you say?" Barely taking a breath, Gottman stated that the most important thing for us men in our marriages is to NOT AVOID discussions with our wife --- even the tough (and maybe especially the tough) discussions.

In a study published a couple years ago (in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine), a sample of 3,682 married men and women were surveyed about the ways in which they discussed and resolved differences in their marriage. It turned out that approximately 25% of the women in the study reported that they typically did not bring up issues to their husbands / that they tended to bottle up their feelings rather than express them / that they generally kept quiet about those things that were bothering them. As one author put it, they "silenced" themselves.

These 3,682 men and women (and their marriages) were then studied over the next 10 years. During that 10 year period, those women who tended to not bring up issues to their husbands were 4 times more likely to die of coronary heart disease than were those women who freely discussed their concerns with their husbands. Yes, you read that correctly --- the death rate DURING THIS 10 YEAR PERIOD was 4 times greater for these women (and that was AFTER controlling for all the usual suspects in heart disease --- body mass index, cigarette smoking, cholesterol, diabetes).

Furthermore, we know from repeated studies what happens to marriages when wives are silent about those things they want (need?) to talk about. In the short run, when wives keep quiet about communication patterns, work done around the house, the quality of the relationship, the amount of time spent together, things that her husband could improve on, what could be done to make the marriage better (I suspect you get the idea!), the marriage looks like it is in pretty good shape (sort of like the fake fa├žade on a movie set). That is in the short run --- for the first 2 or 3 years. But in the long run (within 4 or 5 years), such marriages do not fare very well. Both in terms of stability and satisfaction, silencing the self contributes to the demise of a marriage.

On the other hand, those marriages in which wives are free to bring up their issues --- and husbands fully participate is the discussion of those issues --- these are the marriages that thrive.

So how should we think about these sorts of things?

Essentially, our wives tend to have lots of insights into relationships. Most of them grew up with loads of experience maintaining and nurturing relationships. They tend to know how to make relationships work / how to build connections / how to sustain harmony / how to facilitate intimacy --- all of which are key elements in successful marriages. [Now, admittedly there may be times when they fail to put this knowledge to work with us --- that is for another blog entry --- but they nonetheless tend to have lots more insights into this world of relationships than we do.]

So if a man has a wife who is not irrational and unreasonable / a woman who is not a catastrophizer, terriblizer, awfulizer, horriblizer / a woman who takes the advice of Harlan Miller to heart [Harlan Miller once stated: "Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists in leaving about 3 or 4 things a day unsaid"] --- if we are married to such a woman, then why wouldn't we talk with her about the things that are on her mind?

Most married men (approximately 85%) avoid such discussions with our wives. And when we do, we tend to create raving maniacs --- what a couple responders to previous Love Bytes blog posts have referred to as women who use "harsh start-ups." [Anyone who has lived with such a woman understands my preference for the term "raving maniacs".] But such women have found themselves in a situation where they begin to think that the only way they can get us to listen to them is by being more forceful about their need to talk.

Guess what --- it doesn't work! The last thing that is going to encourage us to sit down and have a discussion is a woman who forcefully says: "WE NEED TO TALK!" But women who are married to avoiders seldom see any other recourse.

Women tend to maintain and nurture their marriage, but whether or not it will ultimately take off and be successful generally rests with us men.

So it bears repeating --- MEN: WE NEED TO OWN OUR SHIT.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The New Man - Episode 68: Brent Kessel - It's Not About the Money

Another cool episode of the New Man Podcast.

The New Man Episode 68: Brent Kessel - It's Not About the Money

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Brent Kessel -- It’s Not About the Money

Author/Financial Planner/Yogi Brent Kessel joins us to discuss the inner demons and voices we ALL carry with regards to money. First off, money is not the root of all evil -- it’s our grasping and clinging for it. From this place, Kessel helps us figure out what our unconscious processes are that keep us “stuck” financially.

Do you and your partner struggle to see eye to eye with your finances? By diving into the different money archetypes, you’ll see the possible solutions for finding harmony with the family finances.

Brent’s book, “It’s Not About the Money” is a solid guide for mastering the inner game of money and helping you find true well being.

In this episode:

  • Yoga, Meditation and Money
  • Blending finances with spirituality
  • Leaving a meaningful legacy
  • Life changes in India
  • Psychology and Finances
  • Abacus Portfolios
  • Why finances/money such a loaded topic for people
  • Fear for Survival
  • Your financial worst case scenario
  • Fears that we face have less power than the ones we don’t
  • It’s Not About the Money
  • Happiness and fear usually unrelated to how much money you have
  • It’s about you, your relationship to fear and money
  • A four year old runs your financial life
  • If I just had more I would be happy
  • Fulfillment and well being
  • Believing advertising
  • Comparing ourselves to others
  • Prioritize well being
  • Why the disconnect between reality and our thoughts?
  • The mind makes a problem out of life
  • What is running the mental treadmill?
  • Nothing wrong with money
  • Dalai Lama on money
  • Money is not evil
  • Grasping, clinging creates the problem
  • “If I have that then I’ll be happy”
  • We Get What We Think We Deserve
  • Subconscious mind, nervous system and money
  • Lottery winners, NFL Players and bankruptcy
  • Core story with money
  • Eight Financial Achetypes
  • The Guardian
  • The Pleasure Seeker
  • The Innocent
  • The Idealist
  • The Caretaker
  • The Star
  • The Empire Builder
  • The Saver
  • Balance is better than being imbalanced
  • How to save your marriage with money problems
  • We attract the achetype that we most need to develop
  • What is your money mask?
  • Secrecy keeps us trapped in our money woes

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gary Stamper - What Is the New Masculine?

Gary Stamper, in What Is the New Masculine?, offers his take on what a new, mature masculinity might look like. I'm in agreement with much of what Gary says here.

What is the New Masculine?

It seems to me a critical aspect of the work to be done on the planet at this time is to heal the wounds of the masculine and feminine. A lot of the work my partner Anyaa does revolves around helping women who have become overly "masculinized" to reclaim their more powerful, integrated feminine, which includes the masculine. My work revolves around helping men who have become overly "feminized" to reclaim the healthy aspects and fullness of the New Masculine without shame and on purpose with a clear sense of their sacred mission.

In an earlier post, I asked, "who are the models for the New Masculine?" in this post I want to address the definition of this "New Masculinity."

Okay, we may not necessarily know who they are, but what does this "New Masculine" look like? What are the qualities that define the New Masculine and how is it different from the old masculine?

The masculine, directional and focused, is defined and guided by the search for freedom, cutting through all obstacles in his path. But not everyone uses masculine energy to search for that freedom in the same way.

David Deida says that how a man seeks freedom depends on his particular needs, and those needs typically change in three stages.

I won't go into those stages as I've addressed that in another post. Suffice it to say the old masculine (1st stage) finds his freedom through acquisition, or more: More money, more power, more sex, etc. he finds his freedom through external sources. This is ultimately unsustainable.

The New Masculine finds his freedom from within, and is not concerned with external causation. He may have things, but doesn't find his self worth, his freedom, from them. He finds his freedom in the present moment, from surrender into that moment, and letting go of self definition. The New Masculine no longer searches for freedom, he embodies freedom itself, always transcending, always including that which arises spontaneously in every moment.

Beautiful. What the hell does that mean?

It means no longer being dependent on someone else's opinion of him, although he can relax into a deep listening state when someone offers counsel. It means being able to hold space for family, friends, a partner, the world. it means being in service to the world withlout negating his own needs in a codependent way. It means saying "no" sometimes in a loving and compassionate way. It means living at his edge, always pushing himself to be on purpose, giving his unique gifts to the world, whatever they might be. It means challenging other men, and himself, to give up the things that limit surrender into gifting.

It means having his mission aligned with his life, filling his core, and it means having a deep spiritual alwareness, not dogmatic drivel. The new masculine penetrates the world as he penetrates his woman, not merely for pleasure or personal gain, but to magnify an open heart, love, and depth, again, his gift to the world.

It also means being able to move freely, at will, between masculine and feminine qualities that serve the perfect moment that continuously arises in the fullness of love and non-separation.

Once men and women have fully integrated their masculine and feminine sides, they are able to move back and forth between the two at will, when either is needed in a given situation. This ability allows the feminine to open fully and the masculine to become the essence of freedom....both in the same person regardless of gender. Therein lies the possibility of Sacred Union and higher purpose for the good of all beings, and is the ultimate expression of BE-ing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tripp Lanier - Kill Your Idols - How to Build a Virtual Men's Group

Nice article from Tripp on how to build an virtual men's group.

Kill Your Idols -- How to Build a Virtual Men's Group


Kill Your Idols -- What Does that Mean?

Perhaps you’ve heard the statement, “Kill Your Idols”. Does that mean we can’t admire others? Are we supposed to train ourselves to dismiss the folks we find most inspiring?

For me, it’s about watching what happens when we place *anyone* on a pedestal. Guys (and I’m guilty of this, too) will place certain women on a pedestal -- elevating her to a place where she’s actually no longer a human being. Instead she’s a blank screen for us to project our fantasies, hopes and desires. It’s basically another version of objectification (guys in the friend zone, pay attention).

Ask any woman worth her salt if she wants some guy gushing over her all the time without actually SEEING WHO SHE IS and she’ll think it’s gross.

A wise man once told me as we watched a “Goddess” float across the street -- “She wipes her butt everyday just like you do.” And it’s true. By elevating her beyond humanity I was performing a real disservice to both parties. Point taken.

So how does that apply to our “idols”?

Like most people, I get inspired by various men and women. I don’t know them personally, but when I see them “doing their thing” I get fired up and want to do MY thing. What’s happening here? Am I creating a fantasy and buying into it?

Let’s see...

In the past I could make it about them. “That person
makes me feel amazing.” Which is actually bullshit. No one makes you feel anything.

And yet, I still felt something positive. I felt more energy and had a desire to act positively. How could I harness that inspiration without it being about THEM?

“I’m inspired by that person and I want to use that energy to do my thing.”

Stay tuned, we’ll get back to this in just a second...

A Virtual Men’s Group

I’m a big fan of men’s groups and one of the reasons why is that when I participate in a group with solid men I get “pulled up” to a better version of myself. For instance, being around solid, accountable guys has me be more solid and accountable in my life -- even when they’re not present.

The same could be said for hanging out with dudes that aren’t solid or accountable. If I were to spend more time with them, I imagine that I would become less solid and accountable. Simple, and yet I’ve experienced this quite a few times.

I receive a lot of emails from guys wanting to know about men’s groups in their area, how they can start one, etc. Well, here’s a little experiment you can try to see if you can benefit from the little phenomenon I described above.

The other day, I went online and downloaded some candid photos of various men that are inspiring to me. I chose pictures that showed them flashing a genuine (not posed) smile. To me, their hearts seemed open and available.

After I lined up the photos on my computer screen, I sat back and thought, “Who would I have to BE to contribute to these men’s lives? Who would I have to BE to deserve a friendship with these men? Who would I have to BE to sit in a circle with them?”

What struck me is that in the past I would’ve asked, “What do I have to HAVE in order to...” The emphasis is on
having something, some external accomplishment like multi-platinum record sales, a national TV show, millions in the bank, etc.

But this time it was more about BEING. Who would I have to BE?

Stay with me.

I got present in my body and felt my chest expand. And then I noticed what felt like an energetic space right in front of me. The answer FELT like I just had to really OWN being Me. I just had to fully STEP INTO BEING ME.

In other words, I just had to be the bigger version of me that is already here. For some reason, I was waiting for permission or some kind of external reason to actually be the best guy I could be. Bright, present, grounded, heartfelt and ballsy -- the list could go on.

And this energetic place was right there and I just had to claim it, to step into it. What was it like? For me this place feels like a deep confidence, a deep knowing, a solid trusting in myself and the universe. No amount of external “prizes” could provide that.

And yes, it was f--king weird. :)

So what does this really mean?

To me, “killing your idols” means something different. I recognize that many people are operating at a frequency that is truly exceptional. They make the world a better place just by being themselves and sharing their gifts -- whether they are entertaining others, awakening minds or changing diapers.

When I place my idols on a pedestal, I miss the opportunity to RISE to that level. It keeps me “below” them. In my body it feels like a collapse. It’s as if I’m saying, “You’re better than me and I’ll never be that good...”

Bullshit.

Well, what would have to happen INSIDE of me in order to step into that greatness? How can I tap into that for myself RIGHT NOW?

I’ll keep you posted. :-)

So, your challenge should you choose to accept it:
  1. Create a list of 5-10 people that really inspire you. Maybe it’s their deeds in the world, but see if you can discern the difference between their accomplishments and how you actually feel just by seeing them.
  2. Collect photos of these people in candid, open and available states -- I found that I was most attracted to my list of people when they were “caught” smiling -- not posing.
  3. This is key -- Line up the photos in front of you. Take a moment to notice what comes alive in you. What do you feel?
  4. Feel it in your body. Is it in your chest (mine was), throat, belly? Make a mental note to listen to this part of your body.
  5. Consider yourself pregnant. Nurture this sensation and focus on it. Allow it to grow. Touch it. Warm it up. Love it up. This IS your power.
  6. After a few breaths, ask yourself, “Who do I have to BE to become a part of this group? What in me is called forward?”
  7. Practice this process everyday until you can OWN this. This is your greatness. It can’t be given to you. You have to claim it.
Shoot me an email and let me know what worked for you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Art of Manliness - 6 Lessons I Learned About Being a Man from Growing Up Fatherless

I found this interesting since I grew up through my teen years without a father. I'm convinced that boys need their fathers whenever possible, or a strong masculine role model in the absence of a father who can fill that role.

6 Lessons I Learned About Being a Man from Growing Up Fatherless

June 17, 2009

fatherless.jpg

Editor’s note: Today we finish up our run of father-themed posts with an article from a different perspective. While having an awesome dad can help you become an awesome man, growing up fatherless can also motivate you to become better than your dad was. Andrew Galasetti used his less then perfect childhood as a springboard into honorable manliness.

Mr. Galasetti is an entrepreneur and the main writer of Lyved.com a blog focusing on various aspects of life and living it to the fullest. Lyved has published a number of popular articles which you may view here. Andrew invites you to keep in touch with him on Twitter.

Like millions of people, I grew up in a single parent household. My mother divorced my father before I was in kindergarten. My father was a drug user and drinker, beat my mom often, and generally made her life a living hell. After they divorced, my older sister and I would still visit with our father on weekends. But as we grew older, he slowly drifted away from us, until one day, he packed up all his belongings and moved to another state without even a “goodbye.” I was about 10 years old at the time.

From then on we never heard from him, not even with a simple birthday card. It’s been over a decade since he left, so for the majority of the crucial developmental times of my youth, I had no father.

As we all know, growing up in a single-parent household means that the children are more likely to live close or at the poverty line while the parent tries to make ends meet. This is very difficult for everyone, and growing up fatherless brings its own set of difficulties for boys.

The statistics about single-parent households make you believe that every boy who grows up with one parent ends up on drugs, unsuccessful, and in prison, but that’s simply not true. Because of growing up fatherless, I have stayed away from destructive activity and crime and have instead moved into being a successful entrepreneur and towards a mission of changing millions of lives in a positive way.

I was taught a lot of things about being a man from growing up fatherless. Here are 6 lessons that I learned:

#1 Having a child makes you a father but not a “dad”

“What’s the difference?” you might be asking. Well, a father is a proper term for a male that produces a child. But in the eyes of a kid, a father is a “dad” or “daddy.” It’s a name that has to be earned; earned by being supportive of your child both financially and mentally. You don’t become a “dad” without working hard for it or without being there whenever your kids need you.

#2: A man needs to be self-sufficient

Don’t depend on someone else or a trust fund for your well-being and livelihood. At any moment, either could disappear from your life. I was fortunate to realize at an early age that no one is going to hand me my dreams or what I need in life, and that I need to go out there and capture it myself.

Since we live in modern times we aren’t required to farm and hunt to survive on our own. Self-sufficiency is different; it’s now more about thriving as a man than just surviving. These days we can gain self-suficency by doing things like:

  • Gaining a varied education

Be open-minded to various cultures, subjects, views, and people. The more things you experience and the more subjects you are knowledgeable about, the more situations you can handle. Seek valuable skills that will make you an asset to employers and communities.

  • Not letting fear stop you

Fear is probably the biggest obstacle for most people. It keeps us from success, keeps us from getting what we need, and it keeps us dependent on other people.

#3: Becoming a man doesn’t come with age

Though the law considers any male 18 and over as a “man,” a boy becomes a true man through experiences and by learning from those experiences. Sometimes this can take years past the age of 18 to happen.

Through experience a boy becomes a man by:

  • Taking ownerships of failure
  • Letting go of stubbornness and accepting lessons
  • Knowing how to handle challenging situations and fixing their incorrect reactions and attitudes
  • Learning more about themselves

#4: Blaze your own path instead of following someone’s footsteps

I can’t understand why so many young men decide to do exactly what their fathers did with their lives. You may be thinking that it’s easy for me to say this because all I had to aspire to was becoming a drinker, drug user, and abusive deadbeat. But besides that, my father did work; he did construction and odd jobs. That’s a common career that sons decide to pursue because their fathers did.

Any work is worthy work and if what your dad does or did really is your passion too, then that’s great. But for me, I wanted something different, something more exciting and something that had never been done before. Here’s a great quote that makes you rethink following so closely in someone’s footsteps:

We are not here to do what has already been done. – Robert Henri

Men go down the path less-traveled and never traveled.

#5: Mental strength is often more necessary than physical

No matter how strong my father is physically, mentally he is weak. He didn’t have the conviction to be a dad. If you want to be a man of great courage and accomplishment, it isn’t going to happen just by hitting the gym and lifting weights. A courageous man stands up for the weak, stands up for what he believes in, faces fear, failure, and criticism. He’s not afraid of responsibility and seeing things through to the end.

#6: Your father doesn’t need to be your father figure

If you have a father who’s incarcerated, or who left you, or who didn’t have much success in life, look for a father figure in someone else. Every man needs a father figure, even far into adulthood. You don’t even need to know him personally, and he doesn’t even need to be alive. Most successful men leave a legacy and lessons behind, whether in a book or video. You can then read, watch, and practice their advice; just like any other father figure. My four most influential father-like figures are Chris Gardner, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Branson, and Randy Pausch.

In addition to studying the lives of great men, seek the companionship and camaraderie of male friends. As Wayne has said, as you open up to these men, they can become “father figures” to you as well.

What a man is and what a man isn’t

So growing up in a fatherless home is something that I’m now proud of experiencing. It has made the line between a boy and a man much clearer for me.

For a quick synopsis and a few more lessons, here is a list of what I learned a man isn’t and what a man is from growing up fatherless:

A man isn’t:

  • Someone who runs from his responsibilities
  • A person who makes excuses
  • A person who strikes a woman
  • Selfish
  • A man through age – a boy grows into a man through experience

A man is:

  • Someone who stands up for something they believe in, even when they’re fearful
  • A person who creates a new path
  • Open-minded
  • A “dad” when he earns it

Were you brought up in a fatherless home? Or do you know someone who was? Please feel free to share your story and any lessons you learned in the comments below (scroll down).


Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Does It Really Mean to be a Man?

A Better Man

The editor sent me a link for A Better Man, a book that compiles the thoughts of many famous and not so famous men on what it means to be masculine. A lot of this is good stuff - and there are words of wisdom here that will appeal to men and boys at a variety of developmental stages and with a variety of beliefs.
What Does It Really Mean to be a Man?

This question is important to any healthy society. Very important. And if there’s a boy you love in your life—a son, a grandson, a nephew, a student, or a member of your church—it matters in a deeply personal way. (Believe me, as the mother of five sons, I know!) You want him to grow into a strong, kind, compassionate, responsible man…yet you can’t help but worry that too few voices are teaching him how.

The reality is that the wisdom that once helped boys find their way—the kind of wisdom that was handed down from man to boy during a game of catch or a day of fishing—has become lost amid all the noise of popular culture, lost amid the rush of lives too busy for family dinners. In its place are lessons learned from dubious “role models” in music videos and movies—lessons like “Look out for #1”…“Pursue money at all costs”…“Use and objectify women.”

A Better Man is my effort to share the kinds of stories boys want and need to hear: stories about right and wrong and courage and integrity and service. Filled with first-person narratives from some of America’s most respected and engaging men—from sports figures to civil rights activists to political leaders—the book is meant to help boys ages 12 to 19 (and beyond) reclaim the goodness and heroism they’re wired for.

Please share A Better Man with a boy you love, or with his parents or guardians. Even if he already has a strong male role model in his life—even if it’s you—the messages in this book simply cannot be reinforced too strongly. Each essay and interview sheds a little more light on the path that leads from boyhood to manhood, showing boys another way. A better way.

Kelly H. Johnson, Editor
Here are some excerpts:

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush
In a heartfelt comment, former President Bush offers his thoughts on his work with former President Clinton and the lesson young men might take away from their example.

“When, in life, you find yourself on opposite sides of an issue from another person or group of persons, I encourage you to engage in the kind of rigorous debate upon which our great country was founded. However, I hope also that you will be mindful never to let those differences become a chasm which you cannot cross for the sake of a greater good. Indeed, ‘a better man’ is one who understands that he can put aside differences without surrendering his beliefs.”

Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Jr. (Civil Rights Leader)
This excerpt is taken from an exquisite interview with Ambassador Young in which he explores the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the importance of finding a purpose in life greater than oneself.

“I posed a question to the congregation earlier this afternoon. I asked them, ‘Was Martin Luther King a genius?’ Of course the answer to that was a unanimous yes. I followed that up with a second question: ‘Are you a genius? Are you a genius?’ Now the room got quieter; people were unsure of how to respond. But you see, if we say Martin Luther King was a genius without acknowledging that the same genius exists in ourselves, then we risk feeling relieved of the responsibility to pursue our own capacity for greatness.

“I don’t know how to say it any more plainly. You are not simply this flesh and blood! You are spiritual beings, and because of this, you will not achieve the happiness you desire by living selfishly. You cannot survive like that!

“Now, does this mean you cannot be successful? Of course not. We formed this business, GoodWorks International, because we felt called to help American businesses get into Africa, and we have been very successful. But before we began, I asked myself, Does this feed the hungry? Does this clothe the naked? Does this heal the sick?—and it does. Business does that. Jobs and work and wages and prosperity do all of those things. Nevertheless, I get criticized all the time for associating with Chevron and Wal-Mart. But to my way of thinking, it is very simple: If we want lights, we need oil. If we want to drive cars, we need oil. It is ultimately very hypocritical to want to live as we do and not want to associate with the companies that allow us to do it.

“So I say by all means, be successful. Be as successful as you possibly can! But find a way to serve God in your work at the same time, either directly or indirectly.”

Ray Allen (Shooting Guard, 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics)
Here, Ray Allen talks about the true measure of a champion and sets forth his thoughts on why and how men must do a better job of respecting women.

“I want young men to see that life is not about the flash and flare. It’s about having an impact on everything around you from your family to your community to the earth. At the end of your days, that inevitable question will rise within you of how well your life was spent. How well did you leave this planet from the time that you were born to the time that you left?

“Ultimately, in my profession, we’re playing a sport, and that is what the focus is on. But we’re playing a sport that has seen great players before, has seen great players in our time, and will see great players when we’re gone. So we can’t reasonably be judged by our athleticism or by the numbers we put up or the Championships we win. What we will be judged by—and judge ourselves by—is how we dealt with our success. How did you come across? How did you make the people around you better? Ultimately, that is what I want kids to see—that this game, like anything else in life, is about the relationships you create. Because once you’re gone, that is what is left. That is what you take with you to sustain you, and that is how you ultimately will be judged. What did you do to make things better? That is the question your life has to answer.

“So, when it comes to women, I think every man in this world should take the time to make a woman feel better. The good men need to make up for the ones who aren’t doing the right thing. When you see a woman walking across the street—she could be a teacher on her way to work with 30 kids for eight hours, and if you compliment her or help her across the street, she’s going to go to school with that little bit of extra energy for those kids. Or it could be someone’s wife—someone raising children—and that is what society says is our foundation. We hear a lot of concern, ‘The children! The children!’ But children start with a man and a woman, and with a man taking care of a woman. That relationship is so critical, and we don’t teach that. We don’t take it seriously like we should. Ultimately, it will be our downfall.”

Tavis Smiley (National Television and Radio Commentator)
This answer was given in response to the following question: As someone who works in television and radio, I would be curious to know what advice you have for young men that might help them be more savvy consumers of [popular] media.

“I think the most important thing that I can share in that regard is how easy it is to be swayed by those images if one does not have a clear image of himself. And so I think that we have to start with two fundamental questions, which are: What is the image that I have of myself? and What is the image I have for myself? The answers to those questions will shift over time, obviously. But that being said, you must know and have thought about the answers to those questions in advance.

“There is an old adage, ‘It’s not what people call you; it’s what you answer to.’ I find myself consistently saying that to young black men and, in fact, it is something that I would say to any young man. It’s not what people call you; it’s what you answer to.”

Kenny Leon (Award-winning Broadway and Film Director)
In this excerpt, Kenny talks about the path to forgiveness that he forged during the early years of segregation and why he feels that the ability to forgive is “a necessity.”

“I was in 9th grade when the Civil Rights laws took effect. Here I was this poor, black kid from the country and I was bussed to one of the wealthiest white schools in the county. It was a tough time—a tough time—but I carried my grandmother’s lessons with me. I looked for ways to build bridges. I refused to indulge hatred. I told myself, ‘That person may think he hates me because I’m black or poor or whatever, but he really doesn’t. He just doesn’t know any better.’ So, I chose forgiveness. I chose it. After all, we’re all imperfect. We all make some terrible mistakes; there’s not one grown person on this planet who hasn’t done a few things they deeply regret. So, the ability to forgive is a necessity for each and every one of us.”


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The New Man Episode 67: Sean Stephenson -- Get Off Your “But” and Live Large

Interesting episode.

The New Man Episode 67: Sean Stephenson -- Get Off Your “But” and Live Large

Listen Now
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Sean Stephenson -- Get Off Your “But” and Live Large

In these “tough times” Sean Stephenson is here to show us how to cut the crap and move forward. Sean avoided a death sentence at birth, multitudes of surgeries and physical setbacks to live an amazing life as a therapist, author and speaker -- impacting people around the world.

In one particular story, Sean tells us how his mother asked him if he was going to use his situation as a gift or a burden. Heavy stuff for a fourth grade kid. Sean is here to remind us how to lose the excuses and victim-mentality that keep us playing small.

The only thing holding you back is yourself. Listen on if you want to grow.

In this episode:

  • Interpreting the challenges in life
  • Reality Show on A&E “Three Foot Giant”
  • Your “victim story” is the biggest thing holding you back
  • Fairness is an illusion
  • Your responsibility to live is a vicTOR vs a vicTIM
  • Your mentality creates your reality
  • Living your dreams makes some people nervous
  • Is this going to be a gift or a burden in your life?
  • Nobody has it easy
  • Maintain and upgrade your beliefs
  • How your community keeps you where you are
  • Surround yourself with solid people
  • The “Sean-tourage”
  • You are like your friends
  • Character traits of those around you
  • How do we choose our friends?
  • If something is meant to be, you can take it slow
  • Tolerating crappy relationships
  • Book -- “Get Off Your But”
  • Fears
  • Insecurities
  • Excuses
  • Go for long term pleasure which is fulfilling
  • Finding your purpose is sexy
  • What do I need to do today to be living my purpose?
  • Where are you most happy & fulfilled?
  • We are more scared of success than failure
  • Being challenged about how much you want it
  • Rule with a velvet hammer
  • How challenging yourself physically strengthens you mentally
  • What was the worst day of your life?
  • Learn from others’ experiences
  • The boundary of your problem
  • Face your fear
  • When you do things that are courageous you gain confidence
  • InnerGameMagazine.com