Giving Men the Option to Expand Our Palates
‘Traditional male behaviors' have been recently marked by the American Psychology Association as harmful and limiting to men- and to women and children in their lives. Being isolated, going it alone, being tough and unemotional, competing with other men, being numb and always strong are behaviours associated with this traditional male model. That is not to say that these behaviours are all bad. To the contrary, many of these qualities that we men are taught from birth (some say from conception) are useful and life-affirming when used consciously and judiciously. And that is the key, in our opinion. Most of us are taught this traditional model from birth and don’t know any other way. As a result, we don’t have a choice. And that’s the tragedy of traditional maleness.
So, what are the alternatives? We believe it is the practice of our CLASSICS Model. This model, we have found, again and again, give men healthy alternatives to our old behaviors. These alternatives are life-affirming and life-changing. We believe men who practice Connection to feelings, Loving with an open heart, Authenticity through accountability and integrity, Spirituality, healthy Sexuality, Intentionally creating a mission of service, connection to Community, and expressing their Sovereignty have a much larger range through which to express ourselves. This wider range frees us from the tyranny and limitations of the old model.
Our salvation as men, our healing, we believe, requires us to simply expand our range of expression! We can and must learn to be soft as well as hard, in connection as well as isolated, being weak as well as strong, accessing all our emotions vs being emotionless and being fully alive as well as numb. Each time we push against societal restraints of what it means to be a man, we extend our range of expression. Each time we consciously move out of the “Man Box”, we expand our being-ness of what it means to be male. We expand our pallets of expression. We tell our loved ones that we are growing, we are safer, we are more open and more alive.
To be clear, there are times when I need to be tough and power through life’s challenges. There experiences which require me to compete or be strong and stoic. But, if that’s my only choice, I can easily limit my life and hurt myself and my loved ones. It is the lack of choice around our expression and connection that causes almost all the challenges we face as men: high rates of violence, isolation, high suicide, and murder rates, ridiculous levels of male incarceration, and so on.
We advocate strongly for men to work together towards expanding our emotional palates. Let us learn healthy alternative behaviours to the traditional model. Practice the CLASSICS Model and see what changes in your life. That’s what our work is all about- for ourselves and for the men we serve.