Yesterday, another therapist on FB made a request, searching for “books or materials guiding men to speak from their hearts to their loves.” My friend and colleague, Valerie, tagged me, thinking I may have an answer. Read on to find out my answers.
I started out by writing, “I’ll apologize to those who may want some ideas quickly.” Then, I responded the best I could later in the evening.
I get clients who ask for materials that can help with this so I’ve been developing videos, PowerPoints, and handouts. But most of the stuff is “not quite ready for prime time.” I have one or two things I give clients. (Trying to balance the “left brain” aspects with the “right brain” aspects.)
The key aspects include some awareness of what is happening inside of us so that we can be in touch with our emotional feelings or their physical sensations. Why? Because those point to our life, our heartbeat, our needs, desires, values.
Guys may have learned or been socialized to focus outward, to ignore many feelings, push through things, believe that they don’t have these needs. Many of us guys have insecure attachments and other trauma, too, that contributes to the challenge to speaking from our heart.
“What is essential is invisible to the eye.” It’s in the heart. Reading about it can help a little. (That can be a more left brain activity and interfere with getting into those feelings of the heart.)
So, I don’t give too many books because this is not just information, a formula, a hack . . . it is gently experiencing ourselves as best we can. Then, we can have a sense of feelings, some understanding of ourselves, and develop some self-empathy or self-validation.
When we have that, we can start to speak from our heart. Hopefully, our partner can receive it and understand some of it. We can also start to understand all those wonderful feelings and needs, desires, longings of our partner.
Another struggle is that there is often a “window of welcome” for certain feelings, which for guys is often anger. That’s often an acceptable feeling for men in workplaces or the home they grew up in. Anger has magic, too, it because it has passion connected to often (not always) deep desires. What he is seeking, wanting.
Anger can be tricky, as we know, because it can come out as blaming, shaming, yelling, demands, insults, other verbal and physical aggression. Even the tension in the voice can complicate things. Some men are avoiding its expression because they may say things that are hurtful. They don’t want to hurt their partner or experience the repercussions of expressing it.
So, where to start? (Do I even have one resource after writing all that? Someone may ask.) Sarah Peyton’s Your Resonant Self and Your Resonant Self Workbook meditations, which she provides freely on her website. Some are brief while a few are longer. They are very gentle and not what I think of as a typical meditation. They deal with challenging subjects, yet are flexible. They are mostly about experiencing our feelings, needs, developing inner support as well as providing support for sadness, grief, anxiety, anger, play, sexuality.
Someone who hasn’t had a lot of therapy may have difficulty with parts of the book and workbook. She also talks about some very interesting (to me) research around many topics for those who want facts.
Of course, I have suggested Susan Johnson’s “Hold Me Tight,” but, unfortunately, I have found guys are hesitant to read it or finish it. Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication can also be helpful as long as we don’t use the information as a formula. Of course, his book is not geared just to intimate relationships. There are videos of him teaching on YouTube. (Sarah is a NVC trainer, too, in a very flexible way, and addresses trauma, too. She talks about contracts that get in the way in her workbook.)