|These men meet nearly every morning in Pacifica, CA|
Whether through competition or cooperation, men have always needed other men to help develop and refine their abilities. When functional, friendships and alliances with other men give us a sense of grounding, of comradery, of play, and of insight. Men’s work is very much about creating a stable platform to develop these possibilities. - James McEntee
by James McEntee, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Being male is something you’re born
as; however becoming a strong, emotionally intelligent and open man is not a
given. Being this type of man takes practice, a practice that gets worked out
in the intimate and everyday relationships that make up our lives.
other men carry a unique potential. Whether
through competition or cooperation, men have always needed other men to help
develop and refine their abilities. When functional, friendships and
alliances with other men give us a sense of grounding, of comradery, of play,
and of insight. Men’s work is very much about creating a stable platform to
develop these possibilities.
I come to this
work from a Jungian perspective. Central to Jungian psychology is the concept “individuation”,
a dynamic process of personal and social inclusion: i.e. having the fullness of
one’s individual self and the
fullness of relationships with others. Jung describes individuation as “a slow
imperceptible process of psychic growth [that produces] a wider and more mature
personality”. It is a term extremely relevant for group work because it
recognizes psychological evolution and growth as requiring interactions with
others. Think of individuation as the great task of taking one’s rightful place on the stage of life, which includes a
number developmental subtasks, such as:
Cultivating an authentic social personality.
Being able to access and express emotions.
Having the capacity to tolerate and resolve
conflicts, with others and within oneself.
Determining one’s own value and social
Becoming economically self-sustaining.
Managing sexual needs and sexual relationships.
Being willing to generously give and receive
support from others.
In men’s work
there is an invitation to take an active role in how your life is
playing out. We each come into adult life with different abilities and
challenges…Some may say it’s karma, others call it the luck of the draw. Both
of these perspectives are too passive to my mind. I like the definition for
“good luck” used by the Bantu people in Southern Africa. “Good luck” is not
merely a passive thing to be wished for, but rather the combination of opportunity and preparedness. Being
ready for opportunity is an activity, one that may even generate opportunities
by magnetically drawing them to you. I think of the men engaged in men’s work
as the lucky ones: For in a committed
circle of men we get to actively explore issues central to our lives, practice
self-awareness, and therefore be prepared for whatever opportunities life presents.
|These men have been in a men's sharing circle for over |
ten years sharing joys and sorrows with love and truth.
It seems to me
that we live in particularly restless and lonely times. Feeling lost and
disconnected is very painful, and as we get older the sense of time running out
adds to the pressure. There is an Irish proverb which says, “The true home of
the people is in the hearts of one another.” We need the sheltering support of others, who know us and care about
us. And while this is true for both men and women, men tend to survive on a
much leaner diet of social connection. Our need for others seems inherently
more difficult to navigate, which is a theme that often comes up in group. The
fears of exposure and possible betrayal weigh heavily on the hearts of men.
For the past
several years I’ve been running a men’s group called “Coming Home”. I call the group
Coming Home because that is the direction we are headed: courageously and
improvisationally making our way to the center of who we are as individuals and
as a collective. The group meets weekly, providing a stable, trusting
environment in which to explore the issues that present themselves. It is a
place to practice the fundamentals of being a man.
As men living
during this time and place, we have a lot of work to do. The world, especially
our families and loved ones, need us to show up and do what we came for. No one
will do it for us…but, blessedly, we cannot do it alone.
McEntee is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with practices in
Francisco and Marin. His soul-centric, archetypal approach invites
imagine their lives and relationships with more richness and generosity.
In addition to men's work his treatment specialties include histories
of abuse and neglect, losses in relationship, couples going through
transition, and families where things have
gotten stuck. You can reach him for appointments at 415-272-0780 or see his website at www.jamesmcenteemft.com.
Labels: Coming Home, James McEntee, Masculinity, Men, Men's Groups