MEN’S GROUP: Here Is Something I Don’t Want You To Know About Me…Healing Toxic Shame

In my men’s group (MCM), one of our older and wiser tribe’s men, Mr D asked “how can we play out even more? How can we unblock and go beyond what we already do?”

I felt that Mr D wanted to bring further bonding and camaraderie amongst the tribe.

Immediately I remembered and after a moment of silence, I invited the men to an exercise where we shared one thing we don’t want the others to know. A powerful exercise to build a deeper connection.

I felt the energy immediately shift and some of the men became instantly guarded.

As their group leader and coach, I said I would lead by going first and reminded them it’s an invitation, if you don’t want to do it, it’s ok.

Even on zoom, you could feel the tension, their bodies tightened and breathing had become shallower.

I took a deep belly breath and said “here is something I don’t want you to know about me…”

From there, without ego, in my humble space, feeling extremely naked and vulnerable, I shared my daily struggles as a father.

I shared how I find it hard at times and how I lose control and my grounding, the opposite of what I teach.

I took a deep breath and just stared at the screen; there was an eerie silence. My body felt intense shame and immediate relief as though healing had taken place. 

And it did, I did heal more.

Brené Brown, an American research professor said “shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.”

I then asked if anyone else would like to go… no answer. I knew this was a big ask, I mean, nice-guys find it very difficult to be around men, let alone share their secrets.

I allowed the silence to be present and gave time for vulnerability and courage to show up.

And courage did show up. One of the men volunteered and shared something he struggled with.

I thanked him for sharing and said “I see you without judgement.”

Moments later, another man shared. Before you know it, most of the men had shared.

I had shivers down my spine, goosebumps down my arms and I felt a little tearful; my heart was full of compassion for the men.

Then something remarkable happened…

I asked if anyone felt judged or ashamed of one another?

The men responded, “no.”

They shared they felt compassion as they could relate to the challenges as if they were their own.

And most of the guys had similar challenges and were shocked to realise they weren’t alone.

I then asked, “could you share this with women or if women were around?” “No!” they immediately said.

In my experience as a coach, I coached women for 4 years individually and in groups. Although they can hold a very nurturing and loving space, they also bring harsh judgement against the masculine.

“We ask them to be vulnerable, we beg them to let us in, and we plead with them to tell us when they’re afraid, but the truth is that most women can’t stomach it.

In those moments when real vulnerability happens in men, most of us recoil with fear and that fear manifests as everything from disappointment to disgust.

And men are smart. They know the risks, they see the look in our eyes when we’re thinking (C’mon! Pull it together: Man up)”

– Dr. Brene Brown, researcher. 

Receiving therapy and coaching has taught me the importance of sharing one’s darkness with safe people to make peace with the shame that binds you to agony and self-sabotage.

One of my coaches, Dr. Robert A. Glover, said in his life-changing book for men ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ that “toxic shame is the belief that one is inherently bad, defective, different, or unlovable. Toxic shame is not just a belief that one does bad things, it is a deeply held core belief that one is bad.”

Showing the world you have it together all the time is suppressing your dark side. This always erupt and it will do at the most intense times.

This ‘toxic shame’ that hasn’t been unaddressed showing its ugly head in self-sabotaging and addictive behaviours.

“Toxic shame gives you a sense of worthlessness, a sense of failing and falling short as a human being. Toxic shame is a rupture of the self with the self. – John Bradshaw

If you are struggling with demons inside of you that haunt you and to stop the self-sabotage that is hurting your dating life and relationships, seek therapy and join a men’s group.

I run a powerful men’s group, MCM, which supports men to move from boy-to-man and become a kick-ass charismatic masculine man.

He has flaws like any other human, but he’s working tirelessly to evolve and become a better man. He’s at peace with these flaws.

Doing the men’s work has saved me, and given me fulfilment and sanity. I’m far from perfect, but I have many more perfect moments I see and appreciate now.

Thank you to all the courageous men who show up and love me.

And thank you to all the wonderful women who show up and love me.

Is it time for you to take the step and heal?