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Why do I do this? A psychology perspective.

I believe most of us have been raised in a confused culture, where we have lost touch with a great deal of our human connection and natural aliveness. One of the reasons we have dogs and cats to snuggle with is because it’s so hard and awkward to do this comfortably with other humans.  Gabor Mate’s new book The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture deeply resonates with me, I feel we have been subtly traumatized and we don’t even know it.  I’m here to do my part to help people recover themselves from this. ​For a long time I felt like something was missing, so I went looking for other ways of living and connecting, I’m delighted to report that I’ve found lots of other wonderful ways which I love sharing with people that are ready for a change.

And then there is the story of men. I first heard the term ‘male privilege’ in 2011 at a course on Power and Privilege; this gave me an intellectual understanding of my privileges, and I also experienced my defensive reaction (“but I’m not a bad person”).  A few years later my marriage ended, and I amped up my adventures, getting beyond my corporate bubble and meeting remarkably diverse friends, who helped me develop a visceral sense of what a lack of privilege feels like. 
I have heard many women feel exhausted by men in general. Some of said “what is wrong with men?”   Why are all the men on dating sites so creepy?   So I’ve been curiously investigating gender conditioning, and improving my behaviours and emotional range in the process.  Here is some explanation from Terry Real’s book  “How can I get through to you? Reconnecting men and women”; I found this helpful in my understanding of the culture that I’m working on changing…

We entered life whole and connected, and we operate best when richly attached. Intimacy is our natural State as a species, our birthright. As a culture, with no malevolent intent, we force our children out of the wholeness in which they begin their lives. Instead of cultivating intimacy, we teach boys and girls in complementary ways to bury their deepest selves, to stop speaking the truth, to hold in mistrust the state of closeness that we all most praise. We live in an anti-relational vulnerability-despising culture, one that not only failed to nurture the skills of connection but actively fears them.

The difficulty for men and women stems from a profound asymmetry in their interpersonal abilities. While both genders are relationally wounded, their injuries are not equal. By raising girls to know more about and want more from their relationships, we set up adult women to either be unfulfilled or over-functioning, usually both. By raising boys to know less about and want less from their relationships, we set up men to feel beleaguered and unappreciated.

Girls tend to lose their voice in early adolescence; to be ‘popular’, likability and accommodation become the most preeminent values. When asked what she wants on a pizza, an 8-year-old will probably tell you, but when she is 11 she may say “I don’t know” and by 13 she will ask what you want. There is a word for this transition – the word is trauma. This corresponds with the first outbreak of many mental health problems for girls.

While both boys and girls are pushed out of their natural state of intimacy, that forced exile hits boys much earlier in their development. Girls in adolescence have some lucidity about how they are being shut down. There is no such lucidity surrounding boys’ injuries. Research tells us that boys evidence a clear, measurable decrease in expressiveness and connection by the ages of 3-5. By the time most boys hit kindergarten they show significant drops in their willingness to express strong emotion, or openly demonstrate their dependency. Before our sons learn how to read, they have read the stoic code of masculinity. Trauma encountered at this age creates injuries that run deeper and are more overwhelming. The child has not have the cognitive skills, language, or social resources of a preteen. Trauma research indicates that the surest indicator of resilience in the face of deep psychological hurt consists of these skills- the capacity to ‘frame’ the injury, to comprehend it, along with an ability to move beyond isolation. Most men in our culture have been raised with impaired access to all of these skills. The same code of stoicism that creates boys’ wounds forbids them to acknowledge or deal with them. 

This makes a lot of sense to me based on my experience, and I see an opportunity for great healing and re-conditioning to be done. I work with all genders and tailor the experience to what each individual desires, at the pace that works for them. If any of this rings true for you, please contact me and we can get introduced and see if I fit with your adventure through life!

With love and compassion,