What do we get up to? Rolled up trouser-legs and funny handshakes? Dares, dangers and devilish deeds? Or The boisterous banter of bars and changing rooms revisited? Is it a gay, religious, misogynist, or anti-anything thing?
Nope, it’s all about hanging out and getting real with whatever the men bring into the room.
We practice dropping the facade and being as real as we can with each other. We seek to let go of what’s been holding us back, so that we may live a more authentic and empowered life. We laugh, listen and grow, together, in self-awareness. We are accepting, accountable and we want more out of life.
We don’t tell each other what to do or how to be. There is no pressure. It's safe to share what's up, question, comment or just say "Pass" when it's your turn to speak.
Here's a story ofone man's experience of his first MenSpeak men's group, which turned into the 'Man Whisperer' chapter in a recent 'Newsweek' ebook. Please request my response article, which explores the format of our Open Groups and the thinking behind it all.
We share our experiences, thoughts and feelings as we learn to respectfully challenge one another to be better men. We test-drive who we are in the room and we take the best of ourselves out of it.
Life doesn’t need to be ‘bad’ to come to a men’s group.
It’s a place to share experience, consciously change and grow with our highs and lows, listening and talking with authentic depth.
So if you want to:
. Feel more of a lust for life.
. Be more able to calmly respond to life.
. Enjoy more success as you enjoy life’s riches.
. Carry less anxiety, overwhelm, fear and isolation.
. Bring true clarity to who you really are and how to authentically 'be'.
. Experience better relationships all ‘round: at work, home and ‘play’.
...then you're welcome to sit in our circle of men and see if MenSpeak is a community for you.
MenSpeak men's groups have been successfully serving men for over a dozen years.We're growing from strength to strength, with international media coverage and the lives of many men - and those around them - sustainably changed for the better.
Please read the ground rules, ask for clarity and discuss anything you wish to add, change or challenge before we begin. As we all take ownership of the ground rules, we meet on a level playing field and can safely explore our lives together.
1: ALWAYS TALK ABOUT MENSPEAK MEN'S GROUPS
This is not Fight Club. Whatever you disclose will be treated in the utmost of confidence, though tools, techniques and tips picked up in a group are best shared far and wide. The more self-aware, able men we support, the better our world. So invite new men along...
What is disclosed is our men's group stays in our men's group. Phrases like "I saw this on TV…" or "My friend said…" are fine, as long as no one can be identified. This is often referred to at the Chatham House Rule and we take this very seriously.
Respect your self, everyone’s truth, boundaries, feelings, perspectives and stories beyond judgement and projection. Respect the space when others talk, and listen. Respect of other people naturally follows on from self-respect.
4: TAKE PART
Authentically take part in the group with words and in silence. Better to say "Pass", for whatever reason, than to resort to banter, put up a smokescreen, perform, or use any other tactics to hide from what you might be feeling, thinking, or whatever might be triggered inside. We practice authentic presence and connection.
5: BE HONEST
Be honest with yourself and the group. That way you can own your feelings and work them through, rather than quietly internalise, suppress, then dump them on to someone else down the line. We get to know our shadows, we consciously break limiting cycles and we set ourselves free. What a relief!
6: OWN WHAT YOU SAY
Use “I” statements, rather than “you”, “one” or “we”. What you say may not be true for every other man. De-personalising avoids ownership of feelings, experiences, opinions and issues making change a long drawn out uphill battle. "We" seeks validation and acceptance of other men, as more important than "my" truth.
7: STAY IN THE PRESENT
Be clear about what is present now, in this moment and what was true of the past. Reflect this in your language, so “always” and “keeps on” might be less accurate than “had” and “used to”. Live the change you want to be and make the space for your change, with the power of conscious words, thoughts and intentions.
8: DON'T BULLY
This is a safe, inclusive space. Neither aggressive, nor passive-aggressive behaviour is an option. No one’s safety will be compromised. Men can learn how to better question, disagree, challenge and learn about others with clarity, honour and respect. Be aware of when you feel vulnerable and such defences come up.
9: DON'T DRAMATISE
When someone tells their story, let them own it from their experience without projecting how good, bad or ugly it is. Give them their space with it. Hijacking, or making a meal of a man’s story might tie him to it in the present, where he might want to name it, have it witnessed, learn from it then let it go.
10: EXPERIMENT WITH WHO YOU ARE
Whether your persona is introverted, extroverted, passive, aggressive, shy or confident, you can give any unexpressed parts of yourself a test-drive here. Ask for feedback, then take the most authentic you out into the world. Who a man presents to the world is not necessarily who he is, so let's explore who we really are.
11: NAME WHAT'S TRIGGERED
One man’s story is another man’s emotional reaction, so best name it, work it through and let it pass. Carrying it home and allowing it to get a hold feeds it well and keeps it in the present, denying exploring it’s message to you and your freedom to live beyond it. We name it, we don't shame it, or blame it.
12: LIVE BEYOND THE RULES
Boyish rebellion might be less efficient than manly exploration. Playing small to be ‘liked’ in the group may be less valuable than playing big, possibly being challenged and growing with the experience. Explore your survival rules, restrictions and our boundaries to claim your authentic perspective and position in your life.
THIS GROUP IS NOT:
This is not a therapy group, not an encounter group, not a w*nk group or a place to pick up men for sex, not a group for or against men or women, not a religious or spiritual group, not a political group, not a group of anything apart from whatever the men present make it. Such boundaries are designed to keep our circle clean and free of expectation and ulterior motives.
“Feel your feelings, trust the process, stay until the end.” (Mike Portelli)
Disclaimer: All activities are undertaken entirely at the participant's own risk. No responsibility will be taken and no compensation discussed for loss or injury. By taking part, each participant accepts full responsibility for his own safety and well-being. (If in doubt, please seek professional advice before participating). May the force be with you!
Feel free to copy, distribute and use as you will, referencing me as the source and ideally telling me where you’ve used it with feedback so I can improve / a testimonial so I can feel good about what I share.
My group facilitation handbook: “How to run a men's group” will be out this year with full training programmes to follow. Contact me to stay in the loop and receive free chapters, updates, special offers, exclusive invitations, video tutorials, demonstrations and blogs for a better life. I'd be happy to design a bespoke facilitation training programme for your organisation so I can pass my simple skills on to you.
Closed Men’s Groups: (six months – renewable - commitment with the same men)
4th Tues, 4th Wed, or 4th Thur, 7pm-9.30pm £150 (£90 conc) in advance.
Upper turret room, Pirate Castle (community centre, not pub!) London NW1 7EA
Want to try a Closed Group? (six month - renewable - commitment)
Prospective new closed group men join us in March and September to see if it fits. New terms begin in April and October. Each closed group has a very different personality, so you might wish to visit them all - if they have the space for a new man - and feel your way.
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.