Recently, I set out to write a brief reply to the question, “do men really need mentoring?”
However, as is often the case, despite my original intent and focus, I ended up at a completely different destination, having written something else instead and spent way more time doing it than I’d counted on.
Nothing went as I’d planned, and ironically, this tendency in men’s lives is one part of answering the original question I set out to answer.
Yes, men really do need mentoring.
I did, and still do, and I believe most others do too.
Let me tell you why.
Life hasn’t gone like I thought it would
Like most men in recent history, I had a dreadful tendency and track record of getting off track, stuck, and feeling hopeless and alone in the world.
My life was often hard, isolating, thankless, melancholy, and filled with intense longing for better days I could never seem to reach.
And I’m apparently not uncommon in this way. History shows that in the history of humans, on average, men die earlier than females and often in more violent and despairing circumstances.
If you’re a man, I don’t need to convince you of this. You already know this. It’s not easy being a man!
Do you ever wonder why this is?
I know it’s a complex issue without a silver bullet, but after helping hundreds of men like me, I’ve discovered some perspective on what leads us to common experiences of undoing.
Fortunately, I’ve also discovered what and how that process can lead to wholeness beyond imagination.
Our undoing as men starts rather innocently and early as boys when most of us begin encountering emotional pain, fear, anxiety, insecurity, and shame.
At some point, it stopped feeling safe to be that easy-going, happy, kind, adventurous, and open-hearted kid who felt unconquerable in his batman shirt or “Underoos” (remember those?!)
The gradual experience of pain, fear, anxiety, insecurity, and shame began to cause us to feel that may
We began to believe that for things to turn out, we needed an approach to get us to the life we wanted.
Our quest for safety, stability, and certainty
As we grew, we slowly learned to rely upon our brains, organs dedicated to keeping us physically safe, to try to keep emotionally, and you might even say, spiritually safe.
We began bold and adventurous boys but soon discovered that when we said and did the “right” things and avoided the “wrong” things, the schoolyard bully didn’t punch us in the nose, the other kids didn’t laugh at us, the teacher didn’t look angry, and the girl we had a crush on batted her eyelashes.
We followed that learning onward. If we pleased our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends, they all seemed happier. When others were happy, we got more of the stuff we liked. When others were not happy, we got more pain.
We never got the opportunity to learn or trust that we were already okay.
So we just journeyed onward, looking for what would make us feel loved, appreciated, and whole.
The version of us we think others will love
This learning led us to construct what we often call the psyche – a complex internal model of “self,” replete with complex “versions” of who we need to be.
We crafted versions of our “self” we believed each person will accept, appreciate, and love. The version that makes mom give more hugs. The version that seems to get dad’s notice. The version that doesn’t turn up the nose of the cute girl on the playground. The version that assuaged the bully’s anger without getting hurt. The version that gets this and doesn’t get that.
In doing so, we were laying the foundation for our future undoing, unwittingly rejecting the true self we’ve always been, believing it would be unsafe to be him because he won’t be accepted and loved.
Yet, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t seem to find an abiding sense of safety, security, and certainty.
The “More Trail.” Every man’s path to fixing his insecurity
Each of us eventually felt that to fix these feelings of insecurity, we needed to do and have more.
Be nice more.
Bigger. Better. Perfection!
…all in an attempt to be accepted and loved and fix these awful feelings that began in childhood.
It seems to work, even if imperfectly. At least for a while.
Our full-blown addiction to “more”
Suddenly we’re no longer little boys. We’ve got more height, muscles, dollars, and experience. That makes us men, right?
All the while, our psyche uses our experiences to keep mapping out “more trail,” an increasingly complex and tiring path to love and acceptance.
One day, a partner comes along and begins to say, “I love you!”. We start a long-term relationship, begin a family, and for a little while, we feel secure!
We’re doing a lot, have a lot, and we’ve got people that think we’re worth loving.
Eureka! It’s working! All our efforts on the “more trail” are paying off!
And so, we live out our days with hopeful optimism and dreadful fatigue as we remain convinced that the life we want – one where we’re accepted, valued, respected, appreciated, deeply connected, and loved – is just around the corner.
We want more, and we just need more to get it!
More free time. More happiness. More respect. More acceptance. More touch. More kindness. More sex. More love.
Everyone around us wants more from us too!
More time. More attention. More presence. More understanding. More money. More house. More yard. More kids. More stuff. More vacation. More fun.
Dammit man… gimme more!
And like good little boys, we keep marching down this trail we learned as kids.
We’re still convinced that more doing and having will lead us to more being, and when we finally get it right… ahhh…. we can finally be happy.
We don’t realize it yet, but that version of the “self” we began constructing in our childhood and continue to build upon is actually standing in the way of the life we truly want.
We get tired, angry, resentful, irritated, unhappy, and deeply dissatisfied.
Despite all we’ve done, achieved, and become, we eventually run into those same strong and frightening emotions we experienced as a kid.
We start to wonder, “when will it ever be enough?”
Women and the end of the “more trail”
Then one day, often just after a “more trail marathon,” like a vacation, home renovation, or big holiday, our wives say some dreadful words.
“I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
“I think I want a divorce.”
“Yes… I am having an affair.”
“I can’t give you what you want.”
“I need to find myself.”
Or perhaps you never heard those words. Maybe you’re a man that suddenly found himself in an affair, wanting out, struggling with vice, and just feeling like the life you wanted seems to elude you.
Then there are the men who experience the pain of another kind of broken relationship, the “invisible divorce” or the “quiet quitting,” and have a marriage that seems to have romantically ended but never legally or practically ended. Instead, you’re just stuck in the endless limbo with no intimacy, no connection, no closeness, but still caught up in the “more” loop.
It’s not always about women. Sometimes it’s the crushing feeling of being overlooked for a job promotion for the umpteenth time or the sickening feeling of being exactly the kind of father we never wanted to be.
Whatever the cause, we grew from boys into men that long to experience a fulfilling, happy life with deeply connected intimacy, fullness, and freedom. But we can’t seem to find and keep such a life, and it’s been feeling like it’s too late.
These moments of adversity and conflict bring us into a crisis. The psyche’s addiction to more and the path we’ve followed since childhood is failing us, and we can’t seem to find the way out of this one.
All our feelings of safety and security have or are beginning to crumble.
But the more trail is calling us again.
“Do more for her!” “Lose more weight for her!”, “Give her more compliments!”, “Get her more gifts!”, “Post more pictures of us on social media,” “Talk to family more,” “Get more counseling!”, “Watch more YouTube videos,” “Read more books!”, “join more men’s groups.”
These are just more desperate impulses of a feeble psyche on its last legs.
More won’t work.
You don’t need more, you need wholeness.
What if this is good?
It’s my experience that being in a long-term relationship with a woman eventually brings every man to this place.
You might even wonder if there is an intentional design behind it.
Regardless, when men find themselves here, discovering the bankruptcy of the “more trail,” there is much to be hopeful about.
Though everything seems hopelessly broken, the devastation has created precisely the environment to finally break free from our addition to the “more trail.”
It can become the catalyst for a journey to our wholeness, a return to the beginning where we live again with the open-heartedness we had when we came into the world.
It’s for this moment I’d suggest that men really do need mentors, and helping men in this place is exactly what I wake up every day to do!
I carefully and lovingly guide a man out of these moments, past his pain, off the “more trail,” and into the fresh, clear air of a new experience of self and life.
We guide men to wholeness.
Our journey to wholeness has four parts
I guide a man through restoration as we begin lovingly and firmly, helping him encounter deep transformation and renewal of his heart and mind. I show him how to feel like that four-year-old confident version of himself in the Batman shirt.
I guide a man to connection by first connecting him with initiated men, then showing him how to improve the rest of his connections. First with himself, then with his significant other, children, parents, friends, co-workers, and more.
I guide a man to inspiration by reacquainting him with the best parts of himself and others. I reflect back to him, the man of value, worth, and significance I see, helping him to see it too.
I guide a man to empowerment by showing him how to discover his mission and purpose and live it out with diligence, passion, and zeal as an “initiated” man.
Listen to the impact of mentoring on other men
Before you try more “more trail”
In this article, and in life, getting off my trail eventually worked for me because I found mentors who helped me see that those trails couldn’t lead me where I wanted to go. Instead, they showed me new paths for turning brokenness into wholeness.
Maybe you’re feeling off the path? Maybe you’re stuck on the “more trail”?
I challenge you to take a hard and sober look at where following the paths you’ve taken has gotten you.
I want to invite you to try something new.
Let me show you a new path, away from doing and having more and toward finally knowing you’re enough. Let me show you the path to wholeness.
Click here to schedule a FREE call with me to plan where you want to go.