Am I the man I want to be?
This is an important question to ask, because being a man at this time in history can be a confusing experience.
Are men supposed to be strong and courageous?
Or kind and gentle?
Is speaking with authority still appropriate?
And when does speaking with authority become “mansplaining” and offensive to those around us?
The cultural roles that used to guide men have broken down. This is a good thing, as those old roles forced us into rigid expectations that didn’t allow for our full authenticity, let alone all the negative effects the patriarchy forced onto women.
But in the wake of this breakdown of gender roles, the Me Too movement, increased personal responsibility, and the heightened stress of modern life, men often find ourselves unsure of how to connect, to the detriment of our relationships and our careers. We get mixed messages about how to hold and express our personal power, which can devastate our partnerships, our jobs, and our confidence.
This was definitely true for me, back in 2005, when my marriage was ending. I was heartbroken, ashamed of my behavior, and full of grief.
Luckily for me, a man I respected referred me to a men’s group where I was accepted exactly as I was, supported to discover what was true in my heart, and shown ways of being that were entirely new for me. With guidance from these men, plus a good therapist and some great coaches, I began to put my life back together in a way that finally felt authentic to who I really was and the kind of man I wished to be in the world.
So yes, I am now the man I want to be.
It’s taken me 48 years to get here and a ton of inner work. And one of my missions in this lifetime is to share the tools I’ve learned with other men, so that they can have a shortcut to their full power and authenticity.
We are in a time of deep transition around what it means to be men. I am on the front lines of this transition, along with others I work with, creating new narratives and fresh opportunities for what is possible for men and women in this world.
As part of this mission, I co-lead a Wildman Gathering for men:
I also offer a web-based Wildman BreakThrough individual coaching program...a 7 session, expertly facilitated experience for men who are ready to find deep connection and powerful confidence. Below, I’m including details about each of the 7 sessions.
Most men aren’t serious about inner work until our lives are in shambles. This program is a proactive way to transform your life into one that you are proud of.
James Mayfield Smith, Somatic BreakThrough Facilitator
Link Includes info about our annual August Wildman Gathering.
Below is an outline of the GROUP ONLINE COURSE. The INDIVIDUAL COACHING PROGRAM follows the same path, but will is customized to your specific needs.
Learn how to use somatic tools to connect more deeply with yourself and authentic relating tools to connect more deeply with others. We begin the Wildman BreakThrough Journey with some essential relational tools. We start by using tools of somatic awareness that allow us to stay connected to ourselves and present to our internal felt experience while also being present, emotionally available, and attuned to the experience of others. This session alone can transform your relationships, as these tools have transformed mine. The tools combine Boulder Integral Center Authentic Relating tools, Stephen Busby Higher Consciousness work, and NVC (Non-Violent Communication) tools. You will leave the session feeling seen, heard, connected and very much alive and expanded. And you will have the tools to take into your relationships, your careers, and to the projects that matter to you.
Begin to understand how our soul/psyche/instincts talk to us…through the super subtle sensations inside the body, via our feelings, and through the memories and thoughts that pop into our imaginations. Under the guidance of a highly trained BreakThrough Coach and Inner Parts Work Facilitator, practice dialoguing with the various inner selves within. Get to know the parts of you that desire and fear different things, causing internal conflict (the Inner Bully, the Protector, the Wounded Child, the Rebel, the Peter Pan/Puer, etc.) This work gives you the keys to nurturing your BreakThroughs by enabling you to access your unconscious to mine new information that becomes the foundation of your next BreakThrough. As you do work with your various inner selves, you are able to align their goals so that these parts of you begin to play on the same team. Our resistance is usually either these parts pushing against each other or one of our inner selves crying out against something that is out of alignment with our value. If you feel resistance in your life and long for inner harmony, then these tools will serve you well.
Mother is ideally supposed to be the safe Feminine, who welcomes us warmly, with care, and shows us that we are deeply loved. When this doesn’t happen, the Mother Wound leaves an indelible mark on a man and predisposes us to experiencing the darker aspects of the feminine. The Mother Wound can also condition us to rely too heavily on women for our unmet emotional needs, setting up a toxic dynamic in relationships. I personally grew up with a mother who, bless her heart, was emotionally shut down, causing a deep attachment wound that has played out in many ways with women, from fear of intimacy to getting into abusive and addictive relationships, to fear of commitment. I’ve worked my tools around these issues for the past 20 years and have made a lot of progress, and I’m still actively working this around each new turn of the wheel. I’ve also held spaced for men to begin to heal the neglect, rejection, abandonment, engulfment, abuse, and other varieties of the Mother Wound. Learn powerful tools so we can feel cared for, so we can trust, and so we can relate to women in a healthy way.
Father is supposed to be the safe masculine…a man who we feel secure with, and is safe for us…who teaches us how to be a man and shows us how to be when we’re out in the world. When our father is absent, like my birth father, or abusive, like my early stepfather, or neglectful or unsafe or unavailable in a variety of ways, we get very confused messages about our worth and about how to make our way in the world. When Father shows up as the wounded man that he is, this has a very real impact on us. And yet, even when we do not have an ideal Father, we can still become amazing men…but it takes metabolizing the unmet needs in our nervous system and transforming the symptoms into powerful clarity about who we are. Learn how to work with the Father Wound so we can increase our self-esteem and feel confident to make our way in the world and accept/become the man that is possible for us to be.
Independent of working the Mother Wound and the Father Wound, we can use a powerful body of tools to help us nurture and heal the Hurt Little Boy within, who holds our unmet needs. This allows us to begin to feel safe, to feel connected, to feel valued, to live joyfully, and be an adult in relationships, instead of a boy or an adolescent. Stop unconsciously pulling the women in your life into mothering roles or the men into your life into fathering roles. Stop letting the unmet needs of your inner child or inner teen hijack your life. Rise above the neediness of your little boy or the knee-jerk rebelliousness of your inner teen. No one teaches us this stuff in school…it’s a specialized field that most people find only when their lives and relationships are suffering and their partners are threatening to leave or their life is in shambles. Don’t wait to have a BreakDown, like I did 13 years ago…instead, actively cultivate a BreakThrough. Learn how to find, feel, and nurture your inner child so that you can be a powerful, generous man who blesses others in your life.
The advanced work of men’s work is learning to balance the masculine and feminine within. Much pain in this world comes from men who have suppressed the natural yin within…that safe, loving energy that appreciates beauty, honors vulnerability, and holds space for others. Testosterone is powerful energy, and tempering it with a deep connection to our inner yin makes the world a safer place for everyone. We will work somatically to make a distinction between the felt sense of our inner yin and our inner yang and we will practice cycling loving energy between the two. This creates a flow of love in the body and fills up our heart space. This brings us great inner strength and a deep sense of being loved, which has many benefits in our relationships and in our careers.
Being in mission and on purpose is like connecting a pair of jumper cables to a powerful battery. We are gifted with energy and vitality, enabling us to walk through initiations, at times with little sleep, from my experience, and still function at high performance. Being in mission is like eating food, drinking water, breathing air, or being in nature. It sources us. We will work to identify living our mission in the World, while staying connected to our Wildman Energy.
Those who take the Wildman BreakThrough Online Course or Individual BreakThrough Program and who choose to attend the annual Wildman Gathering will gather up at least once at our live Wildman Gathering Retreat near Asheville, NC to connect and celebrate our work. The optional annual Wildman Gathering is the most exciting, cutting-edge men’s work available. Join us to experience a series of elemental Earth/Air/Fire/Water initiations, such as shamanic breathwork journeys, firewalks, and immersive water initiations. These high intensity experiences are designed to get us feeling deeply connected to the earth, our brothers, and ourselves. This brings a sense of belonging, empowerment, and inner well-being.
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