This document came from a training group I taught that consisted of three male therapists learning skills in narrative therapy. To practice skills in creating community documents, we decided to create one of our own. Building on themes from the year long training process, the group decided to interview each other on how they learned to be men. This is the document that was created…
Learning how to be men…
Don’t cry- Many of us were taught that “Men don’t cry.” This is sometimes helpful and other times not helpful. It is good for certain environments. For certain work settings, like finance, these skills have been very helpful to us.
Be authentic – All of us can relate to the value of being authentic. It connects with integrity and we were taught this by our fathers, coaches, grandfathers, teacher as well as women in our lives. One of us was in his 30’s when he saw men that he admired speaking honestly about how they felt for the first time. This was transformative. When we are authentic, we think this increases other’s ability to be authentic. Now, some of us choose to be authentic even if it means being vulnerable rather than just “looking good.” It makes us possible to be known and for others to be known. For another one of us, it was his wife that helped him bring out what he was trying to medicate by drinking. He was forced to talk about his feelings and this is what helped him feel better.
Be honesty – We have been taught that, “integrity is paramount.” One of us referenced the Kung Fu TV series, and how David Carradine looked inside himself, and spoke the truth despite the consequences. One of us was taught the value of integrity by his 12 step sponsor. He realized if he lied or stole in even if he wasn’t caught, he would know himself as a liar. He would say, “You caught you.” That one day changed his life forever. He realized that his self esteem couldn’t change unless he saw himself with integrity.
Intelligence is important – We all engage in learning and education any chance we get. Our dads taught us this. We like to read. We are all participating in this training group. And some of us have gone back to school later in life. Some of us have changed our career later in life because we wanted to learn more.
The value of hard work- We have learned to try our hardest and stay determined to meet our goals in life. All of us have been taught this and working hard has served us well. Most of our fathers and grandfathers were hard workers.
Protecting people less powerful – We were taught to protect those with less power. Instead of using our power over others, we want to protect those with less power like we have been taught. Be kind and compassionate is important. One of us was taught to be kind and compassionate by the Christian Brother’s who ran his high school. One of us had an experience when he was little where his dad saved him from an aggressive dog. And then he grew up to be the “bully preventer” at school. And he usually avoided violence with his negotiation methods. This value has helped all of us stick up for those marginalized.
None of us are that dissimilar – During this discussion, we noticed that there were so many similarities between us and so much common in our stories. We mused how to invite conversations for others to see their similarities and celebrate differences. One of us realizes from his work with men in prison that there is not much dissimilarities. Talking about these skills we all learned has us feeling like we are kindred spirits. We are enthused by how we can bring similar conversations to the folks with whom we work.