At the end of our meetings each man commits to doing a “stretch” that supports his development. We ask that these goals be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Boxed. It can take some work to fulfill these qualities, but they do work. You are more likely to achieve your goals if you allow S.M.A.R.T. to guide you. Check out this post on Lifehacker to learn more.
A recent article in the New York Times speaks about love. I’m not talking about the love we see on TV, in the movies or read about. I am talking about the love that transcends the pain of the old love dying, the love that felt real until it is not there any longer.
Laura Munson is a distant neighbor of ours. She lives in Whitefish, MT. Just over the river and through a few woods from Sandpoint, ID. Also a transplant from New England, she carved out a life in Montana that was idyllic until her husband came home and told her he never loved her and wanted a divorce. Read the article to hear her describe her iterations.
Her mantra was, “It’s not about me.” It never is. We project on to each other to escape our pain. She held to a deep faith that she could only affect her world. She couldn’t change her husband. We never can. We often want to. Even when we think we have, it often backfires. The resentment comes back hard or we get what we thought we wanted, but proves to be not what we needed.
Each week in our men’s group, we support each of us through our BS to a new place of authenticity, a place of self-love. It is a place where what we do or have is not why we are loved. It is who we are being in the moment. After several of these moments we start to believe maybe we are loveable for just being ourselves.
Laura nails it. She is a woman of deep courage and love.
Let’s face it, relationships are a big stress and focus for both men and women. We grow up searching for the right one, then when we have a relationship we often struggle with making right.
Alison Armstrong started studying men so she could understand why she couldn’t find the right man. As she says, men taught her a tremendous amount about not only themselves but life. Out of exploration, she developed a course to teach women about men. Today her company teaches men and women about each other along with how to create the relationship they want.
A powerful podcast
In this podcast [see: Alison Armstrong on Chris Howard’s Mentor Circle Call] she shares the gold from her seminar on relationships. She claims that there is no such thing as a “relationship.” A relationship is just people relating. I agree that once we focus on the process, the interaction of relating frees up to be present and enjoy the other person. It is true our obsession with the prefect relationship trips us up. Yet, I do feel as Robert Bly describes in his poem, there is a third body created. The relationship has a life or some would say a Spirit of its own. I do believe it can serve us to honor that third body and I agree with Alison that we create the best relationships when we are being in the moment relating.
She claims that the fixation on finding the One is a scarcity belief that creates stress in our “search” and our desire not to blow it. Whenever I leave the focus of the moment and my experience to perform, not only am not present, I am sabotaging my relating. My focus shifts from experiencing to doing it right, judging if the other person is doing it right, and hoping.
For men she is the one because he chose her. As men, we take all of her – the whole package. We aren’t looking at changing her. On the other hand, according to Alison women being the adaptors by default accept qualities on a case-by-case base. Eventually the woman can enter a state of grace where she surrenders to accepting the whole man.
Knowing she is the one
Men usually in the first 15 minutes know. Alison learned from men that we see the possibility of the relationship at the beginning. From there we are coloring in between the outlines of the coloring book. Her warning to both sexes is to understand when a man says I could marry you he is saying if everything goes as expected it could happen. The woman often hears that, as he will marry me.
The limits of investing
The more we invest in working the relationship, the more we feel we need to hold out to get a return. When we are present, in the moment and in our bodies, we are not in the relationship for the investment, we are just in it.
She claims women fall more prey to being trapped by their investments through all their sacrifices. Alison sees women investing, a code word for denying their feelings and needs for a future return. Men she says give and get what they want.
The importance of renewing
Alison warns both men and women about the tendency women have to “drain their tanks” as they run themselves out often working to do it right. She says that men are more likely to have renewing activities. I agree with that. Yet, I see woman more likely to have renewing therapies. Either way, both partners need activities outside the relationship that gives to them.
The key – who you are?
A key to a successful relationship for Alison is how you feel in the relationship. Being with your partner, does it have you loving who you are being? Does being with him or her move you more to being the person you want to be?
Another quality to look for is finding a partner who has what you don’t have. For example, I want a woman who is femine. As a man, femininity is not a quality I have. However, if I wasn’t being masculine, as David Deida points out, the woman would by default fill that quality. To have the relationship you desire you must embody the qualities that you want, or maybe some of the qualities you don’t want your partner to have.
It is a sorting problem
I love Alison’s encouragement to be out there. It’s not a finding problem, it’s a sorting problem. If you are clear, consistent and congruent with whom you are that vibe will go out to everyone. Yes, you will repel some, but the ones who are your match will be drawn to you. We are trained to please which makes no one happy in the end.
Three keys to finding a relationship
Alison gives three foci for finding a relationship.
- First, be clear about what you want. What is your purpose? Do you want a friend, lover, partner or a wife? Know what you want and speak it.
- The next is, what are you willing to give and what would be an honor or desire to give? The complement, what do you need or want to get and happy to get?
- The third are your deal breakers. What can’t you live with and what can’t you live without? She claims men are better with these boundaries.
Not being your best
She warns particularly women about being on their best behavior. Often for the first three months of a relationship, the person is putting their best face on – then there is a blowup and the truth comes out. Once the person feels safe then the deeper feelings and wants come out.
Alison covers a lot ground in her hour interview. I attempted to do her justice in my review of her talk. If you want to decrease your learning curve for a relationship I would strongly recommend you consider what she is saying. Listen to the podcast, buy her CD’s and DVD’s – we have and they are great, or just take her trainings. Let us know what you think.
As men we can struggle with finding our purpose then, how to pursue it. For men, more than women living a life of purpose is key to having a powerful life.
This need can become an obsession to find your purpose so to be released, as David Deida describes in his book The Way of the Superior Man. If you get it right, then as a man you will feel this sense of accomplishment, being released from the burden of your work. The limitation of approaching life just for the release, or as some would say the kill of a predator stalking his prey, is the release is fleeting and ethereal. It is never enough.
True purpose is the why, not the accomplishment, not the content. I would say it is the how you are being and doing, the context. When reconnected to your purpose, the why or the how of your life now directs your actions, not someone else’s purpose. With your true purpose guiding you, your passion becomes the fuel for your life.
What is your desire, as Guy Sengstock asks in his podcast? What do you really want? I write about the importance of knowing what you want here. Discovering your want(s) is a multilayered process. In working with men and women, along with myself for over 30 years, I discovered that often what we think our purpose is, proves to be only the first layer. You may think you are working to make money, then you determine you are working also for recognition, then you find out you are working for something to do. This keeps going on until you hit the bottom – your purpose.
A man’s direction in life, totally related to his connection to his purpose – is what women are attracted to in a man. A woman instinctually wants a man who is living his purpose – you could also say, willing to die for it. She needs a man with purpose because he determines direction that allows her to align with something beyond herself, as my good female friend Chris says. I know, this sounds chauvinistic. It is not. We need women to ground our purpose and renew our spirit.
Years ago, I learned from studying with a shaman; men are the seed, women are the womb. Women take the seed to birth the baby. There is now greater honor than to be a mother of a baby or a man’s purpose.
I just finished watching the three DVD set put out by Authentic Man Program. I am impressed. Essentially, they teach what we do; but applied to attracting and relating to women.
Their premise is to attract women you need to be authentic. To be authentic you need to be presences. Being presence is about being in your body and accepting whatever is happening in the moment. If you can lead a Healing Journey, you can be show up powerfully for a woman in this way.
After teaching presence, they teach appreciation, then integrity, and then being whole, which naturally generates fun. Each of these layers builds on the previous layer(s). The most challenging, as we know is being fully authentic in our presences. Being mindful of my full experience sets up a place of choice – am I going to accept the full depth of my experience. To the extent I do, is the extent a woman will show up for me.
They contend and I would agree women not only know how present we are, they are always responding to it, for the most part unconsciously. Through some teaching and many demos, you start to get a sense of how to increase your presence. You see the men in the DVDs work on developing their ability to embody presence.
A key to the capacity to be present is you capacity to feel and accept your feelings. When I accept what I am feeling, I am telling the woman her feelings are ok.
Decker, the originator of the program speaks to how our body can hinder or aid us in our ability to be present. You can see that in the DVDs the men who have an easier time are the more relaxed ones. Decker doesn’t directly say this, but I will – if you get the old stress out of your body you are way ahead at easily dropping into being present.
Decker and his partner Bryan speak about the three levels of presence and you could say appreciation. The first is self, the next is other and the third is the “relationship,” how you are relating. Robert Bly calls the relationship the third body. As your ability to hold presence increases you will be able to maintain an awareness of three simultaneously.
They also speak about how we take ourselves out of being present. We either distract ourselves by moving our bodies or rambling with our conversation, or we contract our bodies to hold our feelings in.
My contention is if the men in our groups went out after a powerful meeting to a social function, every man would have women drawn to him. What we do in our meetings is what we need to do with women. Decker and Bryan are brilliant. Their under is to change men’s consciousness by teaching them how to attract women through being themselves. We know how do it, we just need to expand it to how we relate to women.
What Decker speaks about fits beautifully with what we learned from Alison Armstrong about how women are externally focused and men are internally focused. When we go deep inside ourselves, then accept what is occurring – this creates an inviting space for the woman to be more out there with her feminine beauty. Our capacity to connect to this masculine place, as David Deida says, is the determiner to how a woman shows up.
Their concept, our concept does not get any simpler. Mastering it does take some work.
Sandpoint is leading the nation in change. In fact, this past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine Section highlighted Sandpoint as leading the new movement in sustainability
The article describes the Sandpoint Transition Initiative (STI) as the second such organization in the country, and the first to have a large gathering. STI represents the our community coming together to improve the quality of our lives. The Sandpoint Women’s and Men’s Groups are a part of this transition to a more sustainable community.