Men, Vulnerability and Power

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"There are two components to this process. One is the increased emotional well-being that a man experiences when he makes friends with parts of himself that have been previously defended against or hidden from view. The other is that men find so much more richness in relating with each other when they are open then when they are relating in closed or defensive ways.What"s driving this is that men want to be closer with other men. They may have intimacy with a wife or lover. They may have it with one or two other guys, but in general, they don"t have it in a group. Men are finding that being able to share deeper parts of themselves in a group of men is tremendously satisfying. Broadening their ways of relating in a group situation expands significantly the ways that men get to be in the world. It"s related in our minds with being a victim, and men are trained from early childhood not to be weak so they won"t be victimized. We need to talk about this a bit to help men see that showing vulnerability does not need to be equated with being weak or being a victim. It"s necessary to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy vulnerability.Sometimes it"s as simple as pointing it out. When a man is speaking his truth in the group and all the other men are leaning towards him in a caring fashion, it"s easy to see the benefit of relating in this way. From there, it"s fairly easy to point out that the ability to be vulnerable in that way actually comes from strength. It"s an expression of a man"s power. It takes a few times, taking that risk, or seeing other men take it, to start to get a feel for this process and to be able to trust it. Men start owning their vulnerability and talking about it and encouraging other men to come forward in similar way.This strength, this power, is the kind of power that many men have been seeking for a long time. It"s the power within as opposed to the power over , which has been our primary option for millenia. When engaged in relationships where power over is the norm, there are always winners and losers. It takes a while to develop trust that if a man shows his vulnerability, he"s not going to be made a loser.


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