Why I Joined a Men’s Group

Towards the end of 2018, I joined a men’s group.

My original intention for doing so was centered squarely around three aspects:

1. I knew the creator of the group was an entrepreneur, and I desired to be around other men who were living their professional lives in that umbrella

2. I felt alone and recognized that although I did a great job of supporting others (albeit clients, friends, or family), I had no additional support system outside of my partner (which I began realizing, placed pressure on her to continuously meet me, in places she didn’t have the capacity to do so)

3. I recognized something being ‘off balance’ in my ability to communicate my emotions (which my intimate relationship frequently flashed a bright mirror for me in recognizing my own stuff — from insecurities and unexpressed needs, to patterns of resentment and blame)

At the time I had this strong belief that I was an exceptional communicator (which in my opinion, was true in certain regards).

When it came to engaging with others or speaking about areas that were interesting to me in a one-on-one capacity, I’d naturally shine and become very expressive (allowing my curious and kid-like energy to gleam forth).

However, on the flip side, anytime certain emotions were triggered, I would become numb.

Rather it be a verbal remark from my spouse, or frustration due to creating the ‘expectation’ that something ‘should’ be met (without ever verbalizing it), I knew that a change in how I handled myself was a deep necessity, or the relationship would ultimately end.

I felt a sense of guilt and shame in how I chose to relate to her during disagreements, as I’d often place blame solely on her shoulders.

“If she would just do _____ then everything would be alright.”

“Why would she do ______ knowing that that is a pet peeve of mine.”

“If she was more _____ than everything would be much easier in our relationship.”

These are a few of the ruminations that would peruse through my psyche (and even would sometimes come out verbally too).

However, what would actually happen is that I was ultimately taking out built up frustration or anger out toward her, because she was the closest one to me (hence the mirror of me seeing my own stuff being on full display).

Rather it was frustration in my business, or a sense of feeling like there was just never enough time in the day for me to do all that I needed; I would often harbor these emotions without saying anything, until they’d eventually come out in more unhealthy ways.

I had already invested well over 5 figures into various business, marketing, and Life Coaches, in that same year alone… but I could feel that something wasn’t necessarily adding up.

While I thought what I needed was an “expert” to help direct me in my life, truthfully what I really needed was to firstly shift my mindset into taking complete personal responsibility for all that was showing up before me (including the results of which had been created).

Just like I had issued blame on my partner, I also began noticing that I was also doing the same with other coaches and mentors too.

“Well, if they would’ve told me to do it this way, then things would be different for me.”

“They need to be more like ____, then I’d be even more successful.”

“I can’t believe they did _____, they should know better than that… it’s not fair.”

It then dawned on me with the clearest of sights.

I needed to go deeper than what I was, as without doing so, it didn’t matter how much money I invested to receive guidance and support from others, the same elements would continue to appear over and over and over again (albeit in a different face each time).

I had already been aware of Preston Smiles from first coming across him on the Rich Roll podcast a few years back.

These were two men whom I highly respected, as there was a certain depth to them that I could resonate with when each spoke.

The short story on Rich is that he previously was an attorney in LA, after graduating from Stanford with a swimming scholarship. On the surface he was living the American dream and making great money, however he experienced a major wakeup call after nearly having a heart-attack at the age of 39 (due to his sedentary, junk food based, and unhealthy professional work life).

He then chose to commit to completely transforming his health through plant-based nutrition and running. He not only lost over 50 pounds, but also became an ultra-athlete and was listed by Men’s Fitness magazine as one of the 25 fittest people on the planet.

He inspired me because he went deep on his podcast where he shared not only his personal story of how he overcome alcoholism, but was also very vulnerable and open with how addictions crept up in other areas of his life too.

Preston too was someone I could relate to on a deeper level.

He was an African-American, had traveled all around the world, and was deeply committed to passionately living and creating a life with love rooted as the anchor.

He was a very non-BS, straight shooter type, who half of his childhood grew up in a Los Angeles neighborhood with high levels of gangs and violence, only to relocate to a more affluent suburban area of school beginning in his teenage years.

There he experienced a complete reality shift in not only his physical environment, but how differently he was perceived and treated by his peers too.

I could relate to many parts of his story within my own life too.

As I too had the experience of growing up in an area which I never felt safe in, up until the 7th grade.

From continuous fights, bullying, and having multiple of my possessions stolen as a norm, to relocating to a suburban town about 30–40 miles away from the city, where it was much more peaceful, there was only a small fraction of others whom looked like me (only 3% of the school was African American), and my peers spoke to me completely differently than what I was used to prior.

Some years had passed and shortly after another disagreement with my partner (where I then again went numb and was unable to express myself), I came across his men’s group coaching program, and decided to give it a go.

It was described as being completely for men, and the mission was solely dedicated to accessing one’s inner power and leveling up in ALL areas of life (including business, intimate relationships, and personal health too).

I had the latter covered on the health level (or at least I perceived I did), as that was what I had already been consistently supporting different clients on for nearly two years then.

However, around this time I became very aware that my ‘emotional health’ was at the core and foundation of what I really needed intentional support around, in order for me to learn how to be more mindful with myself, and elevate into a higher version too.

While there was a part of my ego that felt I was fine, deep within my heart, I felt an inner pull to do ‘the work’ and give this new avenue a try.

Here I was posting photos all over social media, traveling the world, and sharing uplifting blogs with others, however there was a part that I hid and was struggling mightily with, and that was:

My ability to proactively communicate my needs in a healthy way, create clear boundaries, and ‘be’ with certain emotions that didn’t feel good.

Yea I was fine whenever I felt great, however when I didn’t, I tried my damndest to stuff the pain.

It didn’t matter how much yoga or meditating I did, there was something else that my growth was calling me forth at that time too.

After truly being honest with myself (rather than continuing to hide behind a cloak of “having absolutely everything together”), I then personally committed to joining the men’s group.

To bring my commitment beyond just words, I then paid the financial investment that was due and afterwards set up a heart-to-heart conversation with my partner (who 1000% supported my decision, expressing gratitude for my willingness to lean into the unknown, with the intention of further developing myself).

The program lasted for three-months, and the work was deeply experiential.

I won’t go into the specifics of what embarked on together within the collective group, as much of it was sacred and the depth behind each man, could only truly be acknowledged and honored if one was intimately apart of the experience from start to finish.

However, I can truly say that to this day, I experienced one of, if not the most, transformational periods of my entire life.

I learned how and began the process of taking personal responsibility for ALL of my emotions (which led to a massive shift in not only the intimacy within the relationship to my partner, but how authentically I communicated in both professional and personal relationships).

And I created clear boundaries of what it was I needed (in order to continue to elevate with my life’s mission), but I also learned how to create an even better work/life balance (as I had at times become so consumed with work, that I negated genuinely doing anything fun or deeply loving, for myself).

Also, my business income more than 3X’ed from the year before.

The first and biggest insight I had, which came within the first week of the group, was my own fear and judgement of other men.

I realized that I didn’t feel safe communicating my emotions to other men.

Sure, it was no problem doing so to my partner (or other women in the past who were friends), however I noticed there was a deep resistance to being vulnerable with other men (even in a safe space).

Over time, more layers upon layers melted away from my ego, as I shared things within that group that I’ve never told another soul (even to this day).

I cried multiple times in front of other men, something I had only done once (which was in my senior year of high school when my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer).

I allowed another man to lovingly call me forward when I was showing up inauthentically.

To share with me when my words were not in alignment with my actions.

While at the same time providing a supportive cushion for the times when I chose to intentionally lean through certain fears, sometimes leaving me feeling extremely vulnerable and exposed (all in the name of personal growth).

This being done from a place of safety and love (rather than blame or judgement), created a healthy fire under my feet to sometimes leap into intentional actions, while at others, open my heart and vulnerably share what I was going through.

It was the first time in my then 32 years of life that I had experienced myself showing up in that degree.

To feel comfortable expressing what was truly on my heart, rather it be frustrations in my business, discord within my relationship, or whatever other struggles were present at the time.

It also felt really good to share celebrations with the other men too — rather it be a client’s success story, a record-breaking month in business revenue, or a deep complimentary reflection from my partner. I felt like I had authentic cheerleaders who were genuinely happy to share all layers of life with me.

Continuously being around other heart-centered men (ranging from as young as 19, with the oldest being 60+) who were committed to their own personal growth, as well as being a stand for other brothers in the group who needed uplifting, is an experience I believe could be highly impactful for every man.

It wasn’t about one’s income, professional title/status, skin color, geographic location, or any other aspect that the ego can oftentimes attempts to create separation through.

No, it was truly about loving support, accountability, and creating (and honoring) the lifestyle you desire to create and live (from the ‘embodied heart’ rather than the ‘intellectual mind’).

That was the first time I ever had a “deep” tribe.

I mention the words deep because over the years I had friends or acquaintances whom I played basketball with from work, or other guys who’d I come into contact with at the gym.

However, our talks were often very surface level.

Our dialogues tended to be more about sports, work, politics, and women, but there wasn’t a deeper conversation about life, purpose, personal commitments, or current struggles that one may be in the middle of and desire a listening ear and encouragement around.

No, it was in this group (which was completely online), that I had built some of my strongest and most authentic relationships ever.

And this wasn’t limited to men in the US either(as some of the countries represented were as far as Spain, The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Australia to a name a few).

However, one gentleman and I in particular, developed a relationship where I not only have the privilege of calling him a dear friend, but also a close and personal mentor of mine today.

His name was Jim, and to this day, he’s one of the most kind-hearted, gentle, and compassionate men I’ve ever come across.

During our time within the group, Jim gifted me with one of the greatest compliments that any man has ever communicated to me (which I still hold very close to my heart today).

He said that in his experience of me, and seeing my growth from the beginning of the group till the near end, that he really believed that I could be a great Men’s Coach myself too.

He communicated that he could sense a great depth of heart and high emotional intelligence throughout our time together.

This statement, while completely unexpected, came in a truly divine time for me within my life.

I had never had met another man whom I had gone so deep with (in such a short period of time), who I not only highly respected, but also knew I could trust (as he had no motive outside of sharing his personal truth).

Jim was a Licensed Therapist with not only over 40 years of professional experience in his field, but he also ran two clinics staffed by other mental health professionals, in his home country of Canada.

He mentioned that the aspect he was most impressed by within me, was my ability to open the hearts of the other group members, by authentically sharing parts of my own life that in his experience, most men didn’t.

He mentioned that it created a very safe space for others to comfortably share themselves, without feeling judged or as ‘not enough.’

I mentioned that this reflection came in synchronistic time, as I was already thinking prior to it, that I really desired to support more men around the importance of emotional awareness, in a 1:1 as well as group capacity.

At that point within my coaching career I had already worked with several men (the majority being in the corporate sales executive variety), however it was more around me telling them what to ‘do’ on a nutritional and lifestyle choices level, rather than truly creating the space for them to see transformative insights for themselves.

At this point, a light bulb went on for me.

I realized that one can only go as deep with another, to the degree of which they have gone deep within themselves.

My prior unconscious fear and judgement of other men, plus my own inability to be with certain emotions in a healthy way, weren’t areas I could truly assist them with, as they were big blind spots within my own life, that needed some graceful healing to progress in.

After the group, I then had the capacity to support men in a more profound way (as I could now see and go deeper with them, as I had gone within myself).

I was very grateful for this insight, as well as all parts of the journey which led me to taking a step forward in receiving support.

Not only that, but also the journey that led me to discovering the areas within myself that I judged as not enough, while seeing and being with other men who could relate to the same emotions appearing at time in their lives too.

It was a journey in recognizing that we all are doing the absolute best that we can, given the conscious awareness of that in which we have of ourselves.

The second we perceive ourselves as reaching a ‘mountaintop’ or ‘knowing it all,’ is the second we close ourselves off from opportunities to continue to transform into our most naturally aligned and powerful essence.

We’re all absolutely enough though, no matter at what point we may presently find ourselves in life.

Just the sheer blessing of being born and brought into this world, is a testament to our wholeness.

However, our jobs in this beautiful realm of Earth School is to shine a light on the darker or unconscious areas that may create the illusion of us not being enough.

As the more we bring light, love, self-compassion, and grace to every aspect of our lives, the more space we create for our most powerful version to shine forth.

True strength, vulnerability, and healthy masculine leadership is about honoring all layers of oneself (not suppressing or judging the ones that may be difficult to ‘feel’ or see at times).

Our visions, dreams, and life’s aspirations are dependent upon the level in which we holistically take care of our ‘whole’ selves.

Our personal health, professional careers, friendships, and intimate relationships are all holistically integrated within our ‘whole’ entire being.

How we do one thing or show up in one area, is how we do everything.

And when we emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually expand in one area, we naturally evolve in all the others too.

This is a call to action for the men who deep down know they could use more intentional and loving support.

For the ambitious yet compassionate, strong yet sensitive, visionary who knows that before there time is up on this beautiful earth, that they gave it their all and created a deep impact not only in their own lives, but in the lives of countless others too.

For those who are ready to say ‘hell yes’ to expanding into the next stage of their lives, not only powerfully creating more of their deepest heart’s desires, but living a life that is truly aligned with purpose, meaning, and a focused mission that fearlessly continues to call you to step up (and stop playing small or hiding behind ‘comfortability’).

And if you’re in a place where you deeply relate to many of the aspects within my own story, are ready to show up more powerful and emotionally resilient (in all situations), and feel deeply connected to a vision of your life that you know within every fiber of your being, that you’re ready to let go of the past and focus on consciously creating your future now, I invite you to apply for a 30-minute Complimentary Discovery Call with me.

On it, you can share whatever is on your heart at this time (and I do mean absolutely whatever), as well as highlight your grand vision of what it is you would love to create in your life.

If there’s a mutual fit, I’ll share more with you on how it looks to work with me in either a 1:1 or small group capacity.

However regardless, I send you nothing but continued inner peace, compassion, and love not only in this present moment, but as you continue forward on your life’s journey.

And lastly, I want you to remember two things:

1. LOVE heals all things

2. You can either expand into creating your own life, or contract and be a part of someone else’s life design

With Love,

Brandon

Purposeful Career & Life Happiness Coach for Heart-Centered Professionals. INFJ. HSP. Expat Living in Costa Rica. www.brandonbennett.com