“Men are recognizing that they have been forced to conform to a very narrow and rather two-dimensional picture of maleness and manhood that they have never had the freedom to question.”
- Andrew Cohen
I developed the twelve steps based on a lot of different things: my own experiences in reclaiming my manhood by standing up to crooked bosses, the experiences of friends who overcame great tragedy, my training in NLP, anthropological essays… even Ancient Greek Mystery plays and Old Norse initiation rites.
This is not psychotherapy, and my aim is not to heal a mental illness like depression. I want to start by helping men get over wounds that are culture-deep and drain us of a sense of belonging and purpose, but I also want to do much more. I intend these steps to help a man find that he has a Purpose in his life, and he has the Power to change things. I want men who have undergone these twelve steps to come out of this process ready to make big changes in their life towards Success.
I also want to show men that they are not merely “success objects”: there is more to them than earning money to pay for a wife’s comfort and a college fund for his children.
The steps as I present them here are vague. I believe almost any effective coach or trainer could make use of them differently. I have specific processes designed for each step of this program that I will use in my own coaching, but I want to to offer the outline here for men who cannot at this time take up the sort of services I offer, so they can use it to begin the process.
Step Outside of Culture
In order to see the wounds Culture has dealt you, you first have to come to mistrust it. This involves learning to evaluate every idea in front of you based on what it does, rather than accepting it because it’s what you were taught, what feels right, or what fits your political views.
Terrence McKenna once said: “Culture is not your friend: Culture seeks to limit and define your experience.” This is oen of the most important truths of our era. We have to learn that Culture exists to benefit someone, and if you were one of the people it was meant to benefit, then you and the men around you would not be in the pain they are in.
This is not an easy step. For some men it may require literal time in isolation.
Find Your Wounds
Once you have learned to look at your ideas and understand how they affect you, you can explore the sources of your pain. This means looking at your ideas of Manhood and whether they make you happier or miserable. This is an intense process
It also means exploring the way in which you relate to other men and women, and how you learned to relate to them. You have to look at the experiences that led you to those beliefs.
It is helpful to examine at the major stages in your life: who the men were that influenced you, and what you learned from them. Decide whether what you learned from them is something you want to believe, whether you no longer wish to believe it, or if it is a belief you wish to change.
Mend Your Wounds
As you come to understand what you believe about Manhood, and what has separated you from it, you can begin to make choices. You can choose to believe different things about yourself, about manhood, about work, and your body.
This is not an easy process, and may be one that requires guidance and companionship in order to complete. I recommend doing this with a guide you can trust.
For some it may involve confronting painful memories. For others you may have to confront people who have harmed you in the past. For some it may require the aid of a therapist, coach, hypnotist or other healer who is good at handling memory.
Connect to the Male Spirit
Manhood is a joy when you are experiencing it. For many men, they have never had a positive male role model or a positive male role. As an Wounded Man you may have never felt the harmony of not being at war with your body and the primal parts of your mind. You may have never really had a chance to appreciate the clean even clarity that your mind is capable of.
This is a time when you need to make a promise with yourself to become a better, stronger and happier man. It is a time when you have to explore what a man can be when he is in harmony. This will require time spent in the company of other men working toward a common goal.
Learn to Choose
The most direct and straightforward exercise of your Male Power is to make strong choices with a clear and directed mind. We are often not taught how to choose effectively.
You have to make these choices with deliberation, and without fear of negative consequences: Courage has to be a part of your choices. To do less is to betray your nature and become conflicted.
Your will learn that to cultivate Manhood every choice you make needs to be made with Temperance. You have impulses: sexual hunger, capacity for violence, fear at your own power for violence, need to compete, and need to belong, that often pull you to different extremes.
You may have to make some really hard choices about your future. Changing your career, redefining your relationships, fighting for things you’d given up on, giving up on things you have been hanging on to all might have to come at this stage. It is one where having guidance may be absolutely critical, even if it is just through friends that you trust.
Honour Your Fathers
In our Culture, young men have been encouraged to dismiss their fathers and grandfathers. We have been encouraged to be “better men”, to be the generations that help Women rise above the past by being a different kind of men. We have watched old jobs and old roles fade away and have been told we should be relieved to see them go. Media has made fathers into dull bungling fools in our mind – when they don’t depict them as brutal tyrants.
Our fathers were far from perfect, but when we dismiss them like that we have cut ourselves off from every man who lived before us. We fail to see what is good and worth keeping about our masculinity. We lose a powerful source of comfort and wisdom. While it is true that the modern world has little place for Men as they were that doesn’t mean we can afford to toss out their experiences; if anything we should look for how the lessons of our history can be adapted to the reality of today.
Literally and figuratively we need to reconnect to our Fathers. That means learning about our family history, about the great men of our ethnic past, and about our place in the history of our nation. It means connecting to our real dads, getting past old resentments, and letting them be teachers to us. It also means taking a stand for the role of Men in our Societies by demanding better treatment of them in pop-culture and the Law alike.
Honour Your Mind
Ultimately, the only thing a man can rely when making his way in the world is his own five senses and his power of reason. Making up your own mind about the ideas and events that happen around you is one of the purest exercises of genuine Masculine Power. To let other people make up your mind for you is to give that power away.
Once you are apart from Culture you are in a position to start seeing for yourself what it does, how it shapes you, and how you feel about it. You can choose what to believe and what not to believe for yourself.
To move from a Boy with mended wounds to a person who enjoys the power and harmony of Manhood you must start exercising this basic power first and foremost. Pledge yourself to finding your own meaning and making your own decisions. Learn to have confidence that the ones you make are right, despite the opinion of others.
Many men will be surprised at how under-equipped they are for this step; we are taught how to compute but rarely how to think in a meaningful and constructive way. Learning to use a journal, and how to argue a point effectively have to become an important focus in this stage.
Mend Your Word
Once you have claimed the power to choose, and learned to trust your mind alone to make choices, rather than following the agenda of the people around you, you will find yourself the only person responsible for your behaviour; you no longer get to blame it on anyone or anything else. The promises you make, the groups you belong to, the actions you choose are absolutely yours.
This means that you accept that there will be consequences for your action. You understand that if you have made bad choices, you will be judged by them. Others are within their rights as thinking, choosing beings to treat you with mistrust if you have given them reason to believe your Word is unreliable. If they mistrust you, they have a right to protect their interests against you.
In order to honour your mind and really accept the power to choose, you have to come to value your Word and your reputation. That means honestly looking at where you have lost the trust of others, and if you have lost trust in yourself, and tae concrete steps to make right the things that you have done to hurt that trust. This includes making sincere apologies and reparations to others, making clean breaks with bad influences, and owning up to bad choices you’ve made that have hurt others.
Valuing your Word also means learning to value and honour Trust. By completing the last step you have already begun to see how much the trust of others supports you and how loss of that Trust hurts you. You also learn that you need to be able to trust others, and that refusing to trust others hurts the Trust they put in you.
Acting out of Trust and being Trustworthy yourself makes a lot of demands on you. It means being honest, examining the expectations made of you and the expectations made of others. It means getting past your own learning, fears, and insecurities so that they don’t harm the trust between you and others. In other words, it means having integrity.
Choosing to act with Integrity is one of the most powerful decisions you can make, and in the modern world one of the hardest.
Without Integrity the power to choose may as well be meaningless; every choice will be sucked down into a quagmire of “what-ifs”, deceptions, contingency plans, and fears. You divorce yourself from your strength; you let Fear, rather than Courage dictate your actions. This is a step away from the innate power that rises from your body.
With Integrity, you free yourself to act in the way that every fibre in your being was designed to act: directly and bravely. You free yourself to respond when bad things happen, rather than paralyzing yourself by planning for them to. You honour the power of your mind by relying on it to get you out of situations when your trust is broken. When things fall apart, you come out with your Word intact; you can still respect the choices you have made.
Honour Your Body
Manhood rises from the body. Men are physical beings with powerful drives. When you mistreat your body, you are harming yourself on every possible level. To really experience the full joy of Manhood you have to connect to your body, and care for it through exercise, healthy food, the attention of doctors, time spent outdoors, and good sex. You must make a clear choice to pursue all of those things to cultivate Manhood.
Learn the Art of Love
Sex is not just a bodily need: it is an exercise in Trust and Integrity. It is an opportunity for the deepest, most powerful parts of our minds to express themselves. For men, we do not feel loved by the women we date without the sexual expression of that love. When we are rejected in a sexual context it can hurt us right down to the most sacred and private parts of our mind, and cause us physical pain. A lack of meaningful sex with another can drive a man insane.
Sex and Romance are driven by our bodies, not our minds. We don’t choose who we are attracted to or who we fall in love with. What we do choose is how we act on that attraction and how we nurture – or kill – our relationships
Both Sex and Romance have been surrounded by a thousand confusing ideas that have more to do with politics and ideology than with reality. In order to nurture ourselves with the sex we need, and keep our sexual relationships alive we have to cut through the confusion and study the hard facts of Sex and Attraction.
Embrace the Wild Man
Finally, deep down within each and every Man is a powerful, frightening, passionate and intense being, the Wild Man; he is the expression of our Manhood that visits us in our dreams and through fantasy and gut feeling. To a young man raised in today’s society, the Wild Man is terrifying.
If we are ever to really be at peace with our Manhood we have to learn to love the Wild Man, and find opportunities to let him express himself. We have to learn to let go, get out and act wildly once in awhile, and to do so with no apologies.