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73. The 5 Pillars of A Thriving Man

by Bryan Reeves & Tait Arend | Soulfire Productions
November 25th 2021
Why do men (even when we succeed) often struggle to enjoy our daily lives? What are we missing on our endlessly futile “pursuit of happiness”? What are the key ingredients for a deeply fulfilling life... More
Yeah, yeah. Why do men, even when we succeed, often struggle to enjoy our daily lives. What are we missing in our endlessly futile pursuit of happiness and what are the key ingredients for a deeply fulfilling life as a man? Well, in this episode, I mind these questions and more for useful insights to make a meaningful difference in your life. Because in this episode I'm diving into the five pillars of a thriving man Welcome to men this way, the podcast for every man who seeks to live his deepest purpose in life, who is committed to showing up fully and giving his unique gifts to the world because if not you and who I'm your host and fellow journeyman brian Reeves bryan with a y Reeves men this way. Mhm. Five pillars of a thriving man came to me a few years ago on a cabin retreat in the mountains with my oldest friend Tate.

We traveled up a windy road to a gorgeous mountain area 90 minutes northeast of Los Angeles known as Lake Arrowhead. To do some deep reflection together on our lives. We were both about 43 at the time, living on opposite coasts. He in North Carolina and I in California both partnered two amazing women, both of us doing meaningful work with significant positive impact on countless people's lives. And yet somehow we were also both awakening to deep pangs of loneliness. So we went up to this cabin with my canine companion Yellow Gene for a weekend of food, fire laughter and reflection. What I didn't expect was that my stepping more fully into leading men's work and this podcast, men this way would be born out of that weekend. What I also didn't expect was that just a few years later, Tate and I would be stepping up together to launch a year long coaching journey for men called Elevate 2021 And we're now wrapping up at the end of 2021 with the 10 courageous men who joined us on that incredible adventure this past year.

In fact, we're already now into booking elevate 2022 and we've already got seven men enrolled for that with just five spots left and we haven't even done any advertising for this. And actually, before I continue with our story, Um, let me tell you more about elevate 2022 because the adventure begins very soon and indeed without any advertising and very little promotion about it through social media. We're already down to only five spots left at the time of recording this. So here it is. Look, if you're a man committed to thriving in every domain of your life, then I invite you on a year long journey to make 2022 an extraordinary year. Whether you want to make a massive shift in your professional life or connect to and truly live your deepest purpose every day or maybe you want to improve the quality of your intimate relationship experiences or learn to be more present with your family or perhaps you're simply ready to make profound shifts in how you show up for yourself for your own deep well being, whatever specific dreams or goals or intentions or desires you're shooting for.

What I'm inviting you into is an adventure that can help you achieve it by transforming your relationship with yourself because you should know. The only thing keeping you from experiencing the freedom and life you crave is you. Now, here's the opportunity. I'm inviting only 12 men to coach with me for an entire year. Now that includes personal coaching and an intimate men's group experience with the other 11 men going through this year alongside you. These men perhaps including you. I am ultimately selecting I want this to be a curated group of men that I myself would be excited to spend the year with because that's exactly what I'll be doing, spending this entire year with you and we'll also meet in person for a five day retreat in a beautiful nature location uh, in june now, through this experience, these men and I will become your brothers for life. You will be both challenged to go beyond your comfort zone and celebrated as you step more fully into offering your soul gifts to the world, whatever that looks like for you.

And also, the best part I think is that it includes consistent on demand video access throughout the year to me and your exclusive brotherhood. Now, if this sounds intriguing to you. The details are at brian Reeves dot com slash elevate. It's bryan with a y Reeves dot com slash elevate. If you're wondering what this will cost, I assure you, if you're listening to this on a computer or a smartphone then you can afford it or at least figure out how to. I'm super excited about this experience. I started doing my own real inner men's growth work alongside other men. About 10 years ago, I've been doing transformational work in all kinds of other ways, from a zillion workshops to earning a master's degree to all kinds of stuff. Nothing has been so deeply fulfilling and orienting as doing specifically men's work alongside other men. And now I'm inviting you to join me and 11 other men on an adventure of a lifetime. Again, go to Brian slash elevate for details and to apply and this isn't for everyone, only 12 men will be invited into this experience.

But if you're ready to step deeper into your full free expression as a man and fully give your gifts, your greatest gifts to the world to your loved ones. And as Francis Weller says, live the vow, you know, your soul is waiting for you to make, then this is for you. If you're feeling the call, the door is open, it's on you to walk through today is the day I'm waiting for you. All right back to this episode. Now, today I am going to dive into my five pillars of a thriving man, a framework for thriving in your everyday life. And as I was sharing earlier, these five pillars came to me during that cabin retreat with my childhood best etait. And it came to me overnight after we had spent an evening filled with wild laughter and profoundly agonized tears as I reflected on my own life journey, all that I had accomplished which included everything I thought I was supposed to ever want.

I was also awakening to an inner yearning for things. I'd never given much mind to essential elements of a truly good life that no one had ever taught me were essential for a man, particularly to feel genuinely deeply fulfilled. I'd only ever seen my father's and uncle's concerned about maybe one or two of these five pillars and generally in shallow conceptions of them, no wonder they struggled so much in their daily lives despite having homes and families and professional success. Now, I could dive deep into each of these pillars, but in this episode, I offer a brief introduction to each. This introduction today will also give you a tiny glimpse into the kinds of things will be exploring together and elevate 2022. So again, go to brian Reeves dot com bryan with a y Reeves dot com slash elevate if you feel called if you feel the call to step into Powerful partnership with me in making 2022 extraordinary. I'll take a deep breath and stay present through to the end of this enlightening episode of men this way.

All right, let's die. Mhm. The five pillars of a thriving man, Can you guess one of them Now? Give you a few seconds to think into your own experience. What do you already know is a critical pillar of your existence that without a strong connection to this experience or fulfillment in this domain your life feels or would feel unsatisfying, I'll give you a second time's up. If you're at all familiar with men's work, you'll know this first pillar as purpose. Now by the way these are in no particular order. Their pillars, they stand next to each other, each providing equal support for a man to thrive purpose. I was many a misconception about a man's purpose, there are different layers to purpose as well. But one thing is for sure, if a man routinely feels disconnected from this mysterious thing called purpose, he's very likely going to be an unhappy man, he will be able to distract himself for a long time.

Was staying busy with pursuing money or sex with addictions of all variety, from alcohol to video games to watching tv but he will struggle to be fully present in his life no matter how good it is on the outside because when a man doesn't feel deeply oriented around a meaningful direction for his life, which is what purposes orientation, he feels lost. Now let's talk about that word oriented for a moment. We tend to be more familiar with the idea and experience of being disoriented for many of us who have spent most of our lives without wise and present fathers or any wise elders for that matter to help us find our way, We tend to live perpetually disoriented. Now put it another way we're perpetually oriented around goals that ultimately don't deeply satisfy or even really ultimately matter to us sex money, admiration from others. Achievement merely for the sake of approval status or more money.

When I was in the military over 20 years ago now, I was basically miserable, functionally depressed. The military is an honorable pursuit. It paid me well, gave me status respect the admiration of others. I was rewarded for my accomplishments with ribbons and promotions, ostensibly I got to serve my country. You know, that whole thing. Still, I was miserable because it wasn't an alignment with my deepest purpose. And I didn't really understand what my deepest purpose was back then. I didn't even really know I needed to be connected to that, but I already had clues that it had something to do with the work I do today in the military mission statements and vision vision statements for your unity. I'm sorry for your unit or organization were critical for helping everyone rally around a common purpose for why the unit or organization existed, why we were doing whatever we were doing and how we were going to do it. And I decided to make one for myself.

I don't want to read you my personal vision and mission statement that I made when I was 22 years old and a second lieutenant in the Air Force, I still have it. Here. It is my vision, every act, every look, every word rooted in love and compassion that the world may become. No matter how insignificantly a better place mission, this is my mission to continually strive for peace and understanding amongst my fellow humankind to help facilitate within my ability and write the awakening of minds and souls around me to the awareness that we are all scared, lonely and in need of unconditional love and nothing less and every day is an opportunity to learn more about myself and the world and it is my duty to practice love and understanding during that journey of learning to lose myself in service to others. I wrote that 20 four years ago, long before I understood how to fulfill on that mission or even again what it really meant and I was surely right at a little different today.

But I find it fascinating that 24 years ago I had a sense of inner orientation around a deep and profoundly meaningful purpose for my life, which is great, but it's also why I suffered so much in those days because I had no idea how to live that purpose through the military. However, when I finally received an honorable discharge at age 26 as a captain and I was finally free to begin pursuing the expression of that inner orientation. I still had no idea how I was going to do that. I had no wise oriented elders or even wise oriented brothers to help me find my authentic way. So I would suffer for a few more years, literally wandering the world with a backpack traveling through europe Egypt Australia India, desperately seeking clues on how to live my purpose. I didn't know that's what I was doing. Then I just knew I was lost and needed to wander. I might have told you at that time I was just enjoying the freedom I felt denied in the military or that I was trying to find myself.

But what I was really trying to find was deep purpose. Why the hell am I here and incidentally creating your vision and mission statement is one of the first things we'll do together at the start of elevate. There's nothing like getting clarity around your deepest purpose and learning how to live it ever more fully every day. What I find particularly fascinating as I look back at my years since leaving the military is that everything I did after that professionally, creatively had at its core, some important element of my vision and mission statement embedded in the experience. For example, right after the military I applied to and was accepted in american universities, International Peace and Conflict resolution Master's degree program I wanted to help humanity Hell. However, I traded that possibility from moving to France to live with a french woman. I'd hastily married all my travels and while that marriage was a disaster, it also was the beginning of my own awakening to a more mature and wise understanding of love.

And it helped me start to see my own severe limitations or ground being a truly loving man. In other words, how I was failing to live my mission. A few years later, I helped my dad and step mom grow a mind Body Science Company to a 50 million dollar juggernaut in just five years and has the international spokesperson for that company. I traveled all over the world doing magazine and newspaper interviews in Asia, europe South America appearing on morning talk shows teaching our customers about the critical connection between the mind the body and the heart. I even got to talk to Oprah Winfrey about this mind body heart connection after she featured our product on her famous holiday giveaway shows twice and believe me, I was having the time of my life and after that I managed an incredible music band who's saying hit worthy pop songs of self awareness and spiritual love and my work as a manager for these guys helped thousands of people across north America be inspired to open their hearts and see their own beauty in ways that people would share with us.

They had not opened their hearts or seen themselves in years. Fast forward to today. The work I do is absolutely in alignment with my deepest purpose. My mission and this is my mission as a coach today and a writer to serve the world. One awakened Man, one illuminated woman and one thriving relationship at a time. That's my sort of stated mission today. I can also say my most difficult times in life for when I did not know what to do with myself after the military, when I was so disoriented that all I could do was wander for an indefinite period. Um like also after the music band broke up and I had invested years and thousands of dollars and also given up easily $100,000 or more and missed paychecks and my stock shares an apple which I sold to help me pay rent. Yet I had no idea how to make money doing what I felt connected to. I mean, all those times were confusing and worrisome, scary. I have so much more, I can say on purpose, like how it impacts the quality of your intimate relationships.

You know, it's very common that men when they feel disoriented around their purpose and don't know what to do with their lives uh really struggle to show up and be present and enjoy intimate, committed, sustained intimacy with another person. I certainly had that challenge And I've actually written articles about this on my blog actually. We could also talk about the difference between what author David data calls karmic purpose, what you essentially inherit from your culture or your family, you know, dad running the family business or something like that versus your sole purpose, right? Which has nothing to do with your family or just your culture. We could explore how purpose changes, develops, evolves throughout the different developmental stages of your life. And we can talk about how to actually discover and know your soul's purpose and effective ways for, for living it. There is profound depth to the exploration of purpose and a man or woman for that matter. Can spend a lifetime learning how to live connected to purpose on a daily basis.

Now, this is my introduction for now. And remember in the next few episodes, I'm gonna be sharing some practices to help you strengthen each of these five pillars including purpose, including how to effectively live your purpose every day. For now, let's go to the second pillar, intimacy. The 2nd pillar of a thriving man is intimacy. One of my previous coaches, steve James gave me an interesting definition of intimacy that I'd never heard before and that I've since found immensely helpful because usually we think of intimacy as something you do with another person, but through working with steve and his teaching partner, Michaela bo um I began to have a completely different understanding of intimacy and here's the definition that I heard from steve intimacy is feeling, What is there to be felt and seeing, what is there to be seen, intimacy is feeling, what is there to be felt?

And seeing? What is there to be seen? What's that? Like an encountering something really encountering? What does that mean? When I studied with steve's on his workshops in such, I would spend a lot of time exploring the subtle sensations of my body for example, while moving in various ways and often blindfolded a lot of blindfolded work to create visceral experiences that I could then observe in my body, like the feeling of a shoulder moving slowly, muscle muscles tensing with stress, stress, or the sensations of pushing against another body. I was even taught how to explore the sensations that occur during the body's orgasmic ride to climax during sexual practice just to be clear. I didn't do that sexual practice with steve or any other partner other than my own or by myself. And it was profoundly revealing in that it enabled me to become deeply intimate with all the sensations and phenomenon happening in my physical self, All that work whether working with other men, other bodies working with my own body or even sexually or otherwise.

But I would also work with steve doing long form meditations where we would sit for, say, an hour, just sit there in near complete stillness as still as I could be not moving the body at all, watching all that was arising the feeling, sensations, any phenomenon including thoughts arising in my body and my mind as I sat in simple stillness and I would watch everything from the feeling of pressure, slowly intensifying and folded legs, to the resting state of my thumbs, to some it's dancing like a lit sparkler on my nose, nearly bringing me to tears as it clashed with a fierce resistance in me that refused to let me move to scratch it. More than a few times. I I even watched an internal angry scream want to rise up and overthrow this stillness that my conscious mind was not yet trained to be at ease with.

I've been doing these kinds of practices for many years since my 20s and with many teachers from Byron, Katie and Eckhart Tolle too. My now deceased mentor bob Duggan though most of my practice over the years until recently was more focused on observing really my thoughts rather than the feelings and sensations in my body. Now, even therapy can be a powerful form of creating intimacy with self so long as you have a good therapist who themselves doesn't simply get caught up in all the fantasies of mine that actually take us away from observing and being with what is happening in the body. Because good intimacy practices essentially about learning to be intimate with your actual self, learning to see and feel everything happening inside your physical, mental and emotional body, which is the essential foundation for being able to do intimacy well with another person for how will you seek into another clearly.

If you can't see into yourself clearly, if you can't see clearly yourself, then your thoughts, your biases, your upsets and your judgments, all that stuff just becomes the cloud, the filter, the cloud through which you are looking out and seeing everything. It's the filter through which you see everyone and everything else. For example, if I can't see that I am living with a perpetual fear of being abandoned by people, I love then that unseen fear becomes the filter through which I see every friend and intimate partner and I will be living constantly afraid that they will inevitably abandoned me no matter what they say or do that could offer evidence to the contrary and in that unseen fear, I may even and will likely even act in ways that make it hard for them to stay around. Thus adding more evidence to my unconscious belief that abandoned me is what people do and round and round the nasty cycle will go on.

And the first time I really saw this phenomenon at play, um was with a woman I was dating in my 30s who was so afraid that I would leave her that she would routinely act in ways that that felt very controlling for me. She would angrily demand I not hang out with certain people or even speak with them because she felt threatened that they might take me away from her. I mean she didn't say that, but I really don't need to understand that in retrospect of course the result was that naturally I wanted to leave. I mean I didn't really want to leave like in my in my being like I was so wanted to be with her, but in the in the in the face of her behavior that felt so controlling naturally. I just wanted out now my part in all this of course, because you know, we always play a role, relationships are always a co creation is that I was so afraid of being controlled by anyone. I mean after all the military was completely controlling of my entire life such that I never wanted to experience that again, that I would act in ways that signaled to her my presence was not entirely to be relied upon.

You know like yeah I'm I'm I'm out of here, Freedom is my value. Don't count on me to stick around. So I was sort of the the the vibe she got from me in all kinds of ways and not just further inflamed her fear that I would leave and there you go round and round we went. Had both of us been able to see these wounds on ourselves and understand how they affected our nervous system and triggered our defenses. We could have brought them into the light between us and worked with our dynamic far more effectively. Such that we wouldn't have constantly felt endangered by each other and the outcome of our relationship would have been profoundly different. That's one reason Intimacy is the 2nd pillar of a thriving man. When you learn true intimacy with self, you gain access to true intimacy with another for one because now you can be genuinely vulnerable with another human being too. Without intimacy when we share ourselves with another, we only share what we want them to see what we think will make us look good to them or keep them around or make them do what we want them to do. A lot of people these days especially even use vulnerability as a manipulation tactic to make themselves look wiser or more conscious than they are.

They might be transparent, but that's not necessarily vulnerability I know because in the years before I met Sylvie, my fiance, I got really good at being transparent. I made a good living out of it through my blogs and videos I publicly shared before millions of people my struggles with love relationship, intimacy. I legitimately thought I had nothing to hide when Sylvia came into my life. But then real relationship started and her needs and unique sensitivities emerged, sometimes triggering my fears and anxieties around relationship rather than own that I was simply feeling afraid and anxious because I didn't want to see that. I couldn't see it. I was an intimate enough with myself rather than sharing what my mind was up to, that it was telling me I can't depend on relationship just like I saw my parents unable to depend on there's just like I've never been able to depend on any other intimate relationship my entire life or so I thought for I know uh now that that you know I had at least co created that experience over and over due to my lack of self awareness, a lack of intimacy with myself and I couldn't see any of this in me.

So I just kept reliving it, projecting it out thinking she was doing this to me vulnerability. True vulnerability, not just mere transparency, but real vulnerability is required for intimacy. It allows us to avoid running away from each other when we're hijacked by some fear based story or uncomfortable emotions and instead lean towards each other because we're bearing our hearts to each other open and honest about what we're feeling and experiencing in the moment. That's real intimacy. And that's another skill, real intimacy with self gives you access to with another. You can now start to see what is really there to be seen and to be felt for that other person too. For example, when your partner or even a friend is in pain or angry or sad or frustrated here are a few things many of us commonly do that never help. We tell them. Ah you shouldn't feel that way. Then we give them all our reasons why they should feel differently even though we may mean, well, right, you shouldn't feel that way or don't worry, it will pass Or # two.

We just ignore what's happening and hope that what they're feeling will go away and it might probably will go away. But we likely won't win. Any points might even be deducted points because we failed to see them in their experience and their struggle. And that's really the point. So often when we're struggling with something and it's causing us to stress or feel bad simply being witnessed in the struggle by someone we love and care about can be the most profoundly comforting gift we could receive. But we're still used to being ignored, dismissed, told to get over it or no pain, no gain that we do it to others. We bypass the messy feelings, which just results in a lack of intimacy because we're not seeing what is there to be seen or feeling? What is there to be felt. No wonder our relationships can often experience painful and prolonged states of disconnection. Earlier, I shared that I would do intimacy practice for enhanced sexual uh, enjoyment and presence. That's a far bigger exploration that I want to go into here. But just imagine the more you're able to see and feel what's happening for your partner and not what you want them to be experiencing, but what they are actually experiencing, the more exciting and fulfilling your sexual experiences become too.

Now, one more thing I want to say about intimacy is that intimacy with self is also a necessary foundation for discovering and living your deepest purpose too. Your deepest purpose isn't a task given to you by your dad or your boss or even a holy book. It's something you encounter only by learning to listen to the deeper rhythms within your being, The wisdom within your heart that is constantly whispering to you, constantly showing you the way the choices that would best serve you and thus the world around you. But you're too often living such a noisy life with all your business and self distracting and mental stressing about to hear those whispers by learning how to be intimate with yourself to know yourself your greatest life arises naturally with ease and grace as your wings. Because with this kind of intimacy, you're able to quickly know what would best serve your life in the next moment. Whether that be to take a drink of water because you can feel your thirst or take a nap because you feel your fatigue or work out because your body needs to move or quit your well paying job.

Because you can now clearly see it's robbing you of vitality and joy every day. Perhaps you've even had an intimate encounter with yourself during this podcast. If you heard deep whisperings of excitement and possibility when I shared about my men's coaching adventure, elevate, you might have seen your brain come up with some objections as to why you can't or shouldn't do it. And yet a deeper excitement lingered. That is what intimacy was self gives you access to. It is an essential foundation upon which every single choice of your life can be made from the profound to the profane and your life is made by your choices. The skillful practice of intimacy allows you to consistently make the best choices that will serve your life and your vitality rather than sabotage or dead in you. That's an introduction to the power and importance of intimacy. The 2nd pillar of the five pillars of a thriving man. The third pillar is family. And again, these are no particular order. A family is an interesting one, certainly from me, for it surprised me.

And if I had come up with these pillars in my twenties or thirties, I wouldn't have included this one because I didn't realize this was important throughout most of my younger life, I was essentially a solo single man, traveling and living my life alone. Even when I had an intimate partner, at least, that's what I thought of myself for. I look back and see now that I was quickly creating new family everywhere. I went in the military. The men and women I served alongside were my family after the military. When I went to Egypt, I lived with a family in Cairo for three months and gained a whole slew of new brothers amongst the young men. I explored the Egyptian streets and countryside with one of them. Actually even lives with my dad right now in Nashville in Australia. I lived with a small family in the Outback for a time immediately coming to Depend on them for survival since there were literally no other humans around for 20 square miles and I had no idea how to survive out there In Bordeaux France. At 26, I married a French woman and though she and I were a disaster and her mom and I clashed constantly.

I had fortunately already created an essential family extended family through my network of friends there and they brought me solace and humor and grounding when I was otherwise distraught and despairing due to my turbulent relationship everywhere I've ever lived. From France to Egypt to Miami to Oklahoma to California. I've created family where I otherwise had none. Though I was living in endless adventure of travel and exploration. Somehow my unconscious knew that I still needed the experience of feeling rooted and the support of a community. I felt connected to my thanksgiving holidays were friend, giving holidays because I really went home to either my mother or my father's homes for the holidays. For I was also carrying the wounds of my family of origin everywhere. I went. I don't want to go and all my family dramas and painful stories here. But I will just say that my experience of blood family, my family of origin was shattered at an early age When I left home at 16, I was disconnected from my father who didn't live there anyway.

I was angry at my mother and in my eagerness to get on my way. I was also Now abandoning my three sisters too. For the next 25 years I would come in and out of connection with my family. There was one period of about eight years when I didn't talk to my father at all. After a brutally painful experience in which I felt deeply betrayed by him. I didn't realize until the last few years that my disconnect from family has been a major source of lifelong sadness and disorientation, not having the consistent insight and wisdom of my father who's been off chasing his own dream since I was a boy has been immensely infuriating. About six years ago. I had a dream where the spirit of my grandfather, my father's father passed through me in the dream. His spirit had decided to bypass his four sons who were all angry and disoriented themselves constantly at each other's throats and uh which was actually I was real life. I mean it was happening in my dream, but that's that's my dad and his brothers experience in real life too.

And in the dream my grandfather bypassed them. Like his spirit actually, it was such a just all that's all I can tell you is his spirit bypassed them and instead passed through into and through me, his grandson leaving me with his essence. I woke up so emotional sobbing. I hadn't spoken to my grandfather in years and he wasn't dead as far as I knew. So I just forgot about the dream and went on with my day. But about two weeks later my dad sent me an email and we rarely talked at this time. I probably wouldn't talk to my dad in a year as well. In the email, he told me my grandfather was dying actually, he told me that he believed that his father had made the decision to die two weeks earlier the night I had that dream and he died within a few days of that email telling that my dad chose to email me this information rather than call me. But such was the state of our relationship and such was my disconnect from this third pillar family.

Since then, I've done a lot of healing work with my father. He still isn't the present, why his father, I wish he was. He still often his futile quest to save the world, leaving me alone to find my own way. But so be it. I've accepted that my father work now is to learn to father myself to tap into my own deeper wisdom while also still seeking the wisdom of other living and dead elders who can help me find my way in these last six years or so. I've also grown closer to my sisters who are all amazing human beings. I've touched a deep sadness I didn't even know I was living with for not being near them for most of my adult life. And the fact that the life I found myself I found for myself on my adventures is now a life that has me living on the opposite side of a continent from them. Well, this again causes me great sadness, but in a way, this is also a good thing because it's helping me become more intimate with myself, more intimate with my own sensitive heart as I'm doing more grief work now learning to see into and allow myself to grieve.

Getting intimate with my grieve over my grief over all that I have lost in my lifetime, from the consistent presence of my sisters, to my absent father, to all the countless beautiful souls around the world who for a time at least adopted me, took me in as their brother, their son during my travels. When I would otherwise have felt awfully alone. So many generous people gave me a sense of grounding of belonging. Even when I didn't know where I belonged. They were my family. And today my most profound and important work around family is learning to trust and feel safe in the container of the new family have begun with Sylvia. I had no idea until, until we were together a few years just how scary it was for me to trust in family Because my experience of family was shattered at age four. She's even teaching me to Love Christmas all over again for I had permanently pulled the plug on my Christmas lights long ago. The holidays for me meant it was time to choose between parents and sisters again and who the hell wants to make that choice at six years old or 16 or 26 or 46.

Just last night we watched a christmas movie operation, christmas drop was cute, but I've rarely met military folks. So emotionally happy and vibrant as those actors were. It was like a production of Glee does military as expecting one of them, a couple of them to start singing. Uh, anyway, it's cute. I recommend it made me a bit emotional at times, which was almost a foreign feeling to be emotional over christmas, which is a tradition, but that's the power of family part of that powers tradition feeling rooted in consistency over the ages and of course family and village, the extended family figured in that film quite a bit and that's actually one thing I've grown acutely aware of these last few years is that modern couples have essentially become a poor substitute for the traditional village situation we evolved in, we didn't evolve to live in tiny two person villages, which is what our single family, city and suburban dwellings have become author Frances weller in his book.

The wild edge of sorrow talks about how modern psychology puts a lot of blame on our parents for the wounds that haunt us through life. But he says this quote, we must remember that our parents were participants in a society that failed to offer them what they needed in order to become solid individuals and good parents. They needed a village around them. And so did we. Of course, we were disappointed with our parents. We expected 40 pairs of eyes greeting us in the morning and all we got was one or two pairs. Looking back at us, we need the full range of masculine and feminine expressions to surround us and grant us a knowledge of how these potency is move in the world. We needed to have many hands holding us and offering us the attention that one beleaguered human being could not possibly offer consistently. It is to our deep grief that the village did not appear close quote. So as Sylvie and I begin our own family and we've spent much of this pandemic locked down into our own little two person village. I'm acutely aware of our need for family to both help us raise our own and also help us both continue to feel seen and heard and loved and cared for for.

There's no way she and I alone can offer that consistently and deeply enough to each other. We're bound to otherwise feel lonely next to each other and incorrectly conclude that our loneliness is the other's fault and think maybe we need a different partner or more intimate partners when really it's just that we need a more full experience of family than modern society. By default teaches us to think we need. I actually think this is even one reason polyamory you're doing relationship with multiple partners is becoming more accepted and in fashion in our culture because we're lonely in our two person villages were often disconnected from our parents or at least don't really trust them for guidance and wisdom. So we're mostly winging it when it comes to family and relationship and winging. It ain't a good strategy for thriving. I will say one last thing about family though, I can say much more so long as we men live disconnected from our fathers particularly and from their fathers, our grandfathers, whether they be alive or dead, we risk living a life that feels rudderless.

It's one reason patriarchal religions work so well as a male god offers a great father substitute for without connection to some father figure that we trust and respect. We ourselves can never really know what it means to be a man. Speaking of which the fourth pillar brotherhood When I lead men's groups. one of the biggest reveals often comes when men finally start openly admitting or just realizing for themselves that they don't generally trust other men. I know for so much of my life, I didn't trust men after all, who were the bullies at school, other boys who was most likely to go after the girl I liked at school, another boy who was always on the playing field, trying to get the best of me and always ready to rub it in my face when they did other boys who are the ones I looked up to, but who always seemed to be looking down at me, older boys who are the ones I look to for understanding on how to be a man, but who never initiated me into manhood and instead left me to figure out most everything on my own.

My father's and on and on and I'm one of the lucky ones. My father's didn't beat me, I wasn't physically abused by brothers or a father. My two dads didn't cheat on my two mothers or take sneaky advantage of others for their own benefit. They just didn't intentionally take any time to teach me much about being a man. They didn't have trustable brothers or elders either. So I grew up with the loan disoriented wolf as my model from manhood and my nervous system grew to feel comfortable in my loneliness. In college. I joined a fraternity even became its president. I love my fraternity brothers, but I still always felt like the lone wolf outcast, especially as my mind was busy carrying about things like philosophy and philanthropy and personal growth things that they didn't seem to give two sh it's about, they were mostly happy to earn their pilot wings, drink and chase girls. I went to every riddle aeronautical university where you either went because you were going into the aviation industry or the Air Force.

There's nothing wrong with earning your wings with drinking alcohol chasing girls, nothing wrong with it. I've enjoyed all of those at times of my life and no problem. But after college I lost track with most of those guys because we just didn't care about the same things in our core and that's how it would go For many years. After school meeting guys who seem to only want to talk about what I call the five distractions, work as sports, politics, alcohol. It wasn't until I was about 30 that I met a group of men I was finally inspired by this was my first real experience with an amazing brotherhood of men who cared about what I cared about. That was a music band of five guys, then known as Inner Voice. Later called here to here. A few years after meeting them, I would become their manager as I shared earlier and I helped them complete and released three albums of incredible inspired music and we would go on tour together for an entire year across north America. It was the most amazing adventure And it was like something I had five husbands Though I never even wanted one.

We did everything together while touring in 2009 and 2010. From eating all our meals together to doing laundry, to going to the movies, to producing amazing music concerts for tens of thousands of people. And we also did conflict together that we did it pretty well. It was easily one of the most fulfilling heirs of my life. Then one day, spring 2011, one of the members decided to quit. And it all unraveled. Just like that our brotherhood ended and before long I was once again lone wolf in it, trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life. Now, fortunately I was now meeting amazing men everywhere. Men are respected whom I felt. I could trust deeply. Not just with my successes and my good news but with my vulnerability and my pain and my struggles to men that I didn't always feel the need to look good in front of. Because these men were doing their inner work too. In 2019, I was helping to lead A men's retreat in Norway.

For about 28 men at the beginning of the retreat, one man spoke up and he was questioning the use of this word brother amongst men on retreats and in places like this. She shared that he resented that word. He didn't like it because he didn't feel like a brother to men. He didn't know and didn't trust. So he didn't like that. Men would be so quick to use it At the end of that 6th day retreat he said something I'll never forget. We had just gone through an incredible, intense, beautiful, excruciating, challenging, fun and deeply, deeply cathartic week together. There has been controversy and conflict as well as deep healing and camaraderie too. On the last day this man spoke up again and he said, I now know what brother means. It means, you know what I feel oh man, you know what I feel. This is the true gift of brotherhood in brotherhood. We don't have to bear our burdens alone in brotherhood.

We don't have to hold our worlds together alone. In a traditional culture where the entire village collaborates on life. Men would typically hunt together sons with their fathers, brothers with brothers. It didn't matter which of us took down the prey. We'd all eat In our modern world. The entire burden is on a man's solitary shoulders. If I alone don't take down that pray don't bring in that money I am my family don't eat. We could also grieve together and there is so much in life to grieve. Some of the most beautiful and healing moments in my life have been in the midst of a circle of men when I am crying or allowing my rage to come through knowing them safely held by these men who aren't judging me, but who are loving me and for having my back in that moment of my surrender to just how fucking hard and painful and tragic this life can sometimes be. That's some powerful brotherhood ship right there. I am not willing to lone wolf my life anymore.

It's exhausting lonely. I also know I can't make my intimate partner my only source of connection either in the distant past. I always thought it was my woman's role to make me feel good about myself and about my life. I thought that a woman, a family after money and success was the icing on the cake and that everything should be smooth sailing from there because she'll know how to make me feel great all the time. That's a fool's task. No woman or intimate partner should ever be tempted to or even asked to take on my woman. Also shouldn't be the one who has to challenge me to raise my game in life or hold me accountable to my integrity or to staying committed to living my deepest purpose. She shouldn't be the one who has to constantly hold my complaints are my frustrations, especially when I think she's the source of them. She shouldn't be the one I regularly spar with to keep my wits sharp. My mind sharp, my competitive skills sharp. She should need to be any of those things to me because those things kill sexual polarity and diminish the feeling of trust and safety between us in intimate relationships.

However, those things are the essential elements of a conscious brotherhood. She also shouldn't have to be the one who needs to remind me that I am a man for that's the true gift of belonging to a real brotherhood. It serves as resistance to our lesser narcissistic instincts, to our self doubts and self serving bullshit ways. And it serves as a daily reminder of what it can look like to be a truly good and courageous and generous, heart connected man in the world. In any situation or circumstance. The solid brotherhood allows us to bounce ideas off each other, ideas that might scare our intimate partners who often prefer from us more stability and less intellectual risk taking and like little lion cubs, learning how to hunt by playfully wrestling each other. A solid brotherhood is a container in which we can challenge each other on all kinds of topics respectfully powerfully and we can push each other and the direction of staying in integrity with the commitments we've made in our lives.

We learn how to trust other men, not by remaining silent and playing nice, but by speaking, are sometimes conflicting truths and learning how to do conflict well so that we can disagree or see things differently and yet still deeply respect and love each other, at least that's the brotherhood I stand for and create with any man who steps into brotherhood with me. Finally, the last pillar spirituality by spirituality, I'm really just talking about the experience of feeling connected to something greater than your own tiny little ego. An author and psychologist whose work I've been swallowed up in recently, Bill Plotkin talks about the importance of developing a personal relationship with spirit as an essential act required for each of us to evolve beyond the developmental stage of adolescence. Where in adolescence, our conscious awareness is mainly focused around the in groups that define our ego identities.

Like our immediate families are friends, people who look or think like us, and this is what he says. I'm going to paraphrase as we relinquish attachments to our first identity. We find ourselves asking questions about spirit. If I am not simply my body or my ego, than what am I. If I am a spark of consciousness in the universe, what is the larger consciousness of which I am a part? How am I to be in a relationship with this greater consciousness? He goes on to pose a whole bunch of other, really interesting questions that underlie this important exploration of relationship to spirit and after that, he continues quote, We must be willing to engage the conversation, however understood and embodied, a personal relationship with spirit cultivates humility, a sense of meaning and love in the hidden heart of the universe, a bone deep, knowing that one is an integral member of an evolving cosmos. We are inspired to create a life founded on a sense of interconnectedness and interdependence with all close quote.

So spirituality is really about humility in a sense. You even consider the first two steps in the 12 step alcoholics anonymous program or any 12 step program. Number one, we admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable. A step one. We admitted we were powerless. Number two, we came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. These are the first two steps for anyone turning their life around in the grips of addiction is to essentially surrender the ego's control over to a higher power. That's what the core of spirituality is really about humbling our egos such that we no longer delude ourselves into thinking that we alone are in charge of how the world should go or even fully how our own lives should go. Another way of thinking about it is it's like relocating, rediscovering or reinventing ourselves as integral parts of a world far larger than the one defined by our teenage bedrooms in high school hallways through this frame.

I recall that my own spiritual practice really began when I was 10 and I started waking up early morning hours to look at planets through the telescope of my bedroom window. I was going to church around that time as well with my mom who compelled me to, but it failed to spark my imagination. Church for me was a place where I just felt board under stimulated, where I was even supposed to apparently feel sad it seemed like to be alive. Sad to be alive as God was as if God was doing me a favor by letting a poor wretch like me live. I was never invited to wonder about my relationship with God. I was just told to believe in him whatever that meant. But when I looked up at the planet's normally a bright pinprick, a zillion miles away now brought closer to within the reaches of my youthful curiosity, I was lit up with wonder and fascination. I started to reimagine my tiny little self in new exciting ways. I didn't feel insignificant despite the massive scale of things, I felt way more insignificant in church because it seemed like my one job was to not bother the grownups who wanted me to, you know, not fidget and stay quiet so they could sing melancholy songs to someone I couldn't see in the room by encountering nature.

Through my telescope, I saw the entire world is one miraculous creation And to my 10 years old sensibilities, the night sky and a good thunderstorm were far more exciting evidence of some massive supernatural god existence, far more so than some ceramic statue hanging on a wall and inside that mac miraculous world of wonder. I saw myself as a Voyager on a planet myself here to explore and discover what there was to discover. Ah you could say to see whatever is here to see and feel, whatever is here to feel. In other words, to become intimate with all of creation. You see how all of these pillars are interconnected. I'm telling you there's some genius ship here. He was the natural world that then initiated me into the 5th pillar of a thriving man spirituality in Bill plot thickens work so much of the encounter of spirit as he tells it and teaches.

It is done through encountering actual nature. The raw wilds far beyond our city streets and manicured suburbs. I have nothing against church. I've since found churches where I felt that same spark of wonder and excitement I felt as a boy looking through a telescope, though more so in non denominational church than in traditional ones. I've always felt nature was my primary church though. That's where I've always felt closest to God. It's where I always reliably find enough stillness and silence that I can actually hear my most intimate thoughts and feel my most intimate feelings. It's where the insights and the wisdom and my authentic desires and longings, my deepest purpose even can reliably come clear to me. It's difficult for that to happen when my thoughts are running around how to navigate a busy city day or my senses are being bombarded with sounds of cars and airplanes and phones and even the voices of the people I love who always seem to want something from me spirituality in this sense certainly incorporates religion after all, what are we really doing in any church, temple, mosque or monastery, But attempting to create a space in which we can get closer to encountering the presence of a higher power that we otherwise mostly failed to hear when we're navigating traffic or working at our jobs or reading the news.

But it also transcends religion. I have a room in my house where I meditate most mornings the earlier in the morning the better Not because there's some inherent virtue in getting up early, but because my mind is quieter in the world outside my window, still mostly sleeping. So I don't hear cars and leaf blowers at that hour and I can really drop into a deep listening, a deep encounter with an intimacy with, well let's just say spirit, I could see my higher self, my authentic self God's source love or even just the state of calm relaxation that allows me to forget the worries of my world for a few minutes, which has been itself immense benefits for my well being. But this meditation time is sacred time for me, it's like brushing my teeth. I can go without a few days, but I start to get cranky pretty quickly stang key too. If I go too long without meditation like prayer in the abrahamic religions of Christianity? Islam Judaism or the sacred dance rituals or shamanic plant medicine practices of countless indigenous traditions throughout time.

These are all practices that in their essence are intended to enable the practitioner to encounter the supernatural. What is beyond our knowing in our natural everyday waking state. This is how we can daily bring inspiration into our lives. The word inspire was originally used in the context of a divine or supernatural being imparting a truth or idea to someone. So it is this pillar of spirituality as a practice, a regular encounter with something greater than ourselves, whether that be a god or the stars in the night sky, that can both help us feel a greater sense of connection with the world around us, but also bring us inspiration and help us find our way in the world by putting ourselves into a state of receptivity for the clarity that emanates from the depths of our being. That is an introduction to spirituality and that is an introduction to the five pillars of a thriving man purpose, intimacy, family, brotherhood, spirituality.

Thank you so much for listening. Find any notes for this episode and other episodes at brian Reeves dot com slash men this way podcast And also remember Elevate 2022. A year long coaching experience for men committed to thriving in every domain of their lives is beginning. Soon go to brian Reeves dot com slash elevate for details and to apply Only 12 men will be invited on this journey with me and already only five spots remain. so don't delay. Go learn more and apply now at brian Reeves bryan with a Y Reeves dot com slash elevate. Finally, if you were served by this and think others should hear it to please share this episode or especially just write a review so that you too can lead more men this way because your words matter and don't forget to subscribe yourself while you're at it. I'm your thriving life and relationship coach brian Reeves bryan with a Y read as I keep saying it because people keep spelling it wrong.

I am your thriving life and relationship coach bryan with a Y Reeves until soon keep your head up, your breath relaxed and your thoughts inspired.

73. The 5 Pillars of A Thriving Man
73. The 5 Pillars of A Thriving Man
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