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On Men and Competition
A Workshop for Men of Courage

Making It Safe
No one can learn, grow, or heal in an unsafe space, whether this space is physically unsafe, intellectually unsafe, emotionally unsafe, or spiritually unsafe. Luckily, we are men, and so, each have it in us to know how to make our spaces safe. Please keep this in mind today, and let's share together the responsibility of being each other's "keepers," guides, and guardians.

How can we do this? First, we can do this by focusing on and limiting our work to our own experiences and ideas, sharing our own thoughts and feelings about our lives as men. Second, we can do this by accessing in ourselves all the love we can and using it to consciously witness without judgment each other's struggles. Third, we can do this by simply noticing, without judgment, the times we ourselves zone out or in Ed's and my language, the times we each go into shock. Then, when you go, be gentle with yourself and when you can, share it with the group.

Also, as we explore today, please try to notice how the personal experiences others share and speak about affect you so much more than the ideas and beliefs we may speak about. What I am trying to say here is best described by visualizing the following scene: Imagine there is a new car in your driveway AND you have never driven a car before. Would you know how to drive or only about driving?

My point here is, knowing there is a car in your driveway and knowing how to drive it are two very different things. How do you actually lean to drive? Only by driving. And this is true no matter how intuitive and smart you are.

Another way of saying this is, even when you think you grasp ideas, until you heal whatever BLocks your ability to see the beauty in these ideas for yourself, you will not feel as true for you the real beauty hidden inside them. This means even when you know about a good idea, until you yourself experience it, you will not be able to use it to better your life.

The principle I am referring to here is the one I call, "Experience is the Only Teacher." Try today to focus your efforts today on having new, more loving experiences rather than simply on trying to learn and remember the ideas we each share and explore.

Lastly, as you explore today, please be easy on yourselves, especially if and when you find you have not lived up to your own ideals. None of us do. This does not negate the value and courage of what we do manage to live up to. Again, be gentle with yourselves and with each other.
Today's Focus: Learning to See and Love "Healthy Competition"
[1] Today, we all, Ed and myself included, will explore how we, as men, compete. Our focus will be on how feeling compelled to engage in "unhealthy competition" AND being shamed for wanting to engage in "healthy competition" prevents us from connecting, supporting, respecting, and loving each other, and ourselves, as men.

Leader:

  • ask: What is "healthy" competition? What is "unhealthy" competition? Ask the group to take a moment to write below what they think.)

What is your idea of "unhealthy" competition? Please write your thoughts below.

 

 

What is your idea of "healthy" competition? Please write your thoughts below.

 

 

Write the answers on the big pad. Share with each other.
Exploring How We Compete for Physical Space

[2] How do men compete for Physical Space? Try to identify which competitions are "healthy" and which competitions are not?
(possibilities: being seen as strong; the competition for the air you breathe and having space on the planet, men as the obligated protectors, men as being attractive to women only if they appear strong or powerful, times men get shamed for loving their strengths, etc.)

Leader:

  • ask: who here has ever felt intimidated by another man?
  • By open vote (pointing, out loud, etc. ) ask the group to pick the most intimidating and least intimidating.
  • With the two men's permissions, ask them to come and sit facing each other in front of the room. Now ask men in the remaining group, one by one, to come and sit next to, behind, and in front of each of the men. Explore how the presence of other men affects the two men.

Please write below your thoughts on what is "unhealthy" competition for physical space?

 

 

Please write below your thoughts on what is "healthy" competition for physical space?

 

 

 

Exploring How We Compete for Intellectual Space

[3] How do men compete for Intellectual Space? Again, try to identify which competitions are "healthy" and which competitions are not?
(being seen as smart, leadership, authority, intellectual respect, personal rights e.g. opinions matter, etc.)

Leader:

  • ask: take a moment and write below, things men compete for.

 

 

  • On big pad, write "Things Men Compete For: underneath, make three columns [A] the thing men compete for: [B] with others, [C] with self. (Ed watches while this is happening to identify the Most and Least Competitive.
  • ask: "Who hates making long eye contact?"
  • From the "hate doing it" group, ask the group to vote for two men, [A] the strongest, and [b] the smartest.
    • With the two men's permissions, have them sit in on chairs front of the group, facing each other. Now have them do try to see who can maintain eye contact for longer without staring through the other's head. Finally, have the whole group pair off and have Steve lead the group through a basic eye contact exercise.
        1. Pick a partner you do not know. Look over at him, and note, without judgment, anything you may feel toward this man.
        2. Begin to look into your partner's eyes, trying to read his inner life. Allow whatever thoughts or feeling you hear in you to simply float to the surface, regardless of the level of judgment you may experience. Do not judge yourselves for what you hear nor for what you think.
        3. Try to notice your level of comfort or discomfort. Again, do not judge yourselves for what you think or feel. Simply allow whatever you experience to float before you like a cloud with words on it.
        4. Now allow yourself to move your focus from one eye to the other, noticing which eye is easier for you to look into while maintaining conscious eye contact as best you can.
        5. Now keep your focus on the more comfortable eye, again trying to maintain conscious eye contact as best you can. Do this for a few moments.
        6. Now switch your conscious eye contact to the less comfortable eye, and do this for a few moments. Notice, without judgment, what comes up in you.
        7. Now slowly begin moving your focus from one eye to the other, again maintaining conscious eye contact as best you can. Again, notice what comes up.
        8. Now try move your eye contact so as to make figure eight's on the surface of your partner's eyes. To help, imagine that your eyes are skating on your partners eyes as if your partners eyes are an ice skating pond. Again, notice what comes up.
        9. Finally, break eye contact but before you do, try to be very conscious of what comes up as you break eye contact.
          Now, take a few moments to share with you partner what this experience was like for you, paying special attention to anything which may have changed in the way feel toward this man.

Process what this was like for the group.

 

Ask: Please write below what this was like for you, what you learned about yourself, and about other men.

 

Exploring How We Compete for Emotional Space
[4] How do men compete for Emotional Space? Again, try to identify which competitions are "healthy" and which competitions are not? (Being seen as emotionally strong enough, centered or balanced enough, emotionally stable enough, emotionally healthy enough, emotionally available enough, emotionally contained enough, etc.)

Leader: ask:

  • Write below any ways you believe you are "emotionally weak."
  • Write below any ways you believe you are "emotionally strong".
  • Ask for a volunteer to do a visual dialogue on times they were "emotionally weak." After the exercise, write below what you witnessed:
  • Ask the group how similar and different they are from what they just witnessed.

Exploring How We Compete for Spiritual Space
[5] How do men compete for Spiritual Space? Again, try to identify which competitions are "healthy" and which competitions are not? (being seen as spiritually knowledgeable (competing for acknowledgment), being seen as wise (competing for respect), being seen as spiritually "healthy" by others (competing for the best recovery); by other men, spouses, children ,parents, etc.)

Leader: ask:

  • Write below a time you won.
  • Write below a time you lost.
  • Write below a time you quit.
  • Write below a time you didn't quit.
  • Write below what your sense of a "looser" is.
  • Write below what your sense of a "winner" is.

Leader: Now ask the group to define a "looser" and write the answers on the big pad. Now do the same with the word, "winner."

 

Leader: Ask someone who has trouble loosing to come forward and do a visual dialogue. Process with the group. After the exercise, write below what you witnessed.

 

Leader: Now ask someone who has trouble winning to come forward and do a visual dialogue. After the exercise, write below what you witnessed.


Process writings with the group.

 

Closing visualization: Journey to see your wise man.
[6] Leader: Imagine seeing your wise man. Imagine asking what you need to change about how you see competition. Now listen with an open heart.


Leader: Please take a moment to write below what you have learned about yourself and men today.

 

 




Books by Steven Paglierani

Solving the
Mind-Body
Mystery

Finding Personal Truth Book I: Solving the Mind-Body Mystery

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Unraveling
Human
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Finding Personal Truth Book II: Unraveling Human Nature

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The Science
of
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Finding Personal Truth Book III: The Science of Discovery: the Birth of a New Scientific Method

Coming
December 2015


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December 15, 2002
On Men and Competition: Making it Safe
© 2002, Steven Paglierani. All rights reserved

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