Meeting 1-4
Focus: Speaking your Truth

The basic structure of this meeting is the same as Meeting 1.1 - refer back for more information.

Some issues may have come up during check-in that the group may wish to spend more time on rather than moving straight into the 'focus'; or perhaps some issue is still to be dealt with from the previous week. When it is appropriate the leader moves the group into the main focus for this meeting.

5) The Big Bit in the middle - the leader announces the focus of the meeting

Focus: Speaking your Truth

"One of the most important aspects of men's work is how well each man understands the idea of, and is able to - 'Speak his truth'. In fact this will go a long way in determining the 'success' of the group."

"This is not something that just happens, but is a skill that needs to be considered, practised and learned. It involves doing the work of owning what is going on for you - no matter what is happening with anyone else."

"Essentially you tell your own story without advising/judging or telling another man what to do, or how he should feel."

"When a man is sharing his own issues/experiences, quite often it brings up a reaction/feeling in the men who are listening. We should recognise that these reactions/feelings are our own, and take ownership - no matter what they are. They are not wrong - they simply do not belong to him, but to you and reflect your own orientation/attitude to the issue being shared."

"There is a real tendency in group work, especially when we start, to think that we are supposed to advise or fix someone when they have a problem. This must be avoided - as it means we are projecting our own beliefs and values and even inadequacies and issues onto that man -

[ie we advise them/tell them what to do, to (ostensibly) fix 'their' problem, but underneath it may be our own issue we're avoiding…]."

"A group that supports taking ownership and speaking your truth will fare better than others who may get bogged down in projections, lose clarity and get into arguments over who 'owns' or is avoiding issues."

"Finally, speaking your truth means saying what is going on for you alone. NOT what you think is happening for him or what he should be/do/think/feel; allow him to find his truth and experience your support and patience."

Exercises

  1. Can you remember the last piece of advice someone gave you?
    Did you ask for it? How did you feel listening to it?
    Did you follow it? If yes - why? If no - why not?
  2. Can you remember the last time you gave advice to somebody?
    Was it asked for? - or did you just give it?
    How did you feel giving that advice? How was it received?
    Was there one of your own issues underneath prompting you?
    Did you follow your own advice in that instance?
    • If not why not - what stopped you?
    • What does it mean when you give someone advice and you don't own it yourself?
    • Do you think you'd like them to show you how to solve your problem - like a kind of rehearsal?
  3. Have you ever stopped yourself from giving advice to somebody as they were talking about a problem? What stopped you? What was that about?
    • Do you think they may have just wanted to be listened to?
  4. How do you feel about giving advice when someone directly asks for it?
  5. Do you have any general conclusions about 'advice giving'?
  6. Think of a time when another man was sharing and you had a reaction.
    1. What was that about for you? Did you want to 'fix' it - make it go away? How?
    2. What was the 'felt sense' of that reaction - unpleasant? - uncomfortable?
    3. Did you feel an impulse to advise or tell him what to do? Did you? How was it received?
    4. Were you able to 'own' your own reaction at that time? Do you now? Did you have a sense that it was your own issue? - Do you now?
  7. Again, think of a time when another man was sharing and you had a reaction (same or different occasion).
    1. Were you judging that man in some way? ie if you wanted to fix it, did that imply he was somehow inadequate to the task?
    2. If your reaction was a strong one, were you perhaps 'blaming' him in some way? Was he 'wrong' in his attitude/approach? - did he need to be 'straightened out'? Did he need to be confronted and 'changed'? What can you own about that reaction now?
    3. Were you able to move into a place of 'allowing' that man to say/experience/do what he needed for himself?
    4. Do you think he felt supported? Ask him!
    5. Is it ok to ask for support in your group? How can that be done?
  8. What options do you have if you suspect a man is 'projecting' onto you?
    1. Can you ask him to speak his truth without referring to you?
    2. Can you ask him to say what he wants without referring to you?
    3. Can you ask him to own his own feelings/reactions as you speak your truth without referring to him?
    4. How can you not 'take it on'?

Notes for Meeting 1-4

Most men come to group with the intent of being open and honest; this meeting attempts to reinforce that healthy ideal, raise consciousness around 'projections' and promote a group dynamic that supports 'speaking your truth', thereby reducing the chance of confusing projections taking root.

If men are advised or even judged, blamed, perhaps even shamed, as they attempt to speak their truth, then the tendency will be to not risk revealing, to not be vulnerable and so avoid this 'wounding'. This unhealthy group dynamic can be very difficult to change once it is established - a lot will depend on the 'maturity' of the men in the group and their willingness to work at taking ownership. The watchword perhaps needs to be: 'Are you willing to take ownership?' - then sort out who owns what from there.