The Men's Wellness Group is a support and learning class for men. It is a forum safe from judgement. One of the important educational aspects of the group is learning how to assert needs and how to dialogue with people when there is conflict. The group is a place to define feelings, beliefs, and needs so they can be effectively communicated and addressed. The group can become a stable source of support, new information, communication skills, self acceptance, and a platform to explore new life possibilities and decisions. Men in the group give and receive acceptance, information, and hear each other's life experiences and knowledge. That in itself is highly rewarding.
Men learn about the dynamics of relationship conflict, what conflict means, and how to repair with other people after a conflict. Many men get locked in patterns of isolation, combativeness, and emotional blindness. Other men are hobbled by timidity and avoiding patterns. I help men develop the tools to break the isolation, check the aggression, bring voice to their needs, and transform themselves so they can live more loving, forward-moving, creative, assertive, listening, and emotionally connected lives. Men learn the skills and benefits of "non-reactive listening" and negotiation. People using non-reactive listening skills make deliberate attempts to make their partner feel heard and understood--even if they themselves feel very upset. Negotiation is the last step of problem-solving. Men learn how to negotiate. Men learn to recognize when negotiation is more likely to succeed and when it is likely to fail.
The usual definitions of masculinity in our world--being tough, aggressive, unemotional (except anger), invulnerable--are narrow and leave little room for self-definition or intimate connection with others. Boys growing up are often shamed, attacked, or ostracized if they act outside of narrow definitions of masculinity. Those attacks take their toll on self-esteem and self-confidence. Men can be out of touch with the complexities of their emotional selves. As a result, in their day-to-day actions and relationships, they resort to the two traditional fall-back positions left to them: isolation and avoidance, or aggressiveness and defensiveness.