The Journey Towards Self-Acceptance: How a Men’s Support Group Can Help You Embrace Your Authentic Self

It doesn’t take a prophet to see that the world of men is heading in a dangerous direction.

If you have any doubts, consider the following statistics:

  • According to the CDC, one hundred and thirty people take their own lives daily in the U.S. One hundred are men.
  • A 2021 study by the Survey Center on American Life found that since 1995, the number of American men claiming to have no close friends has risen from just 3% to 15%.
  • One in ten men experience anxiety and depression daily, but less than half of these will ever seek support.

Men need help now more than ever. With no one to turn to and an undeniable stigma against seeking help, wounds are left to fester and grow, driving the chances of eventual healing into the ground.

Men don’t know how to be men–stuck between the aggressive masculinity that characterized our forefathers and the quiet, submissive, people-pleasing of the modern age, we have nowhere to turn.

We need somewhere to go before this already perplexing situation grows worse.

The puzzle of masculinity and the modern man is growing more complex, and it seems that no matter how much you flip it around, turn it upside down, and rearrange it, clear pieces are missing. We need to find them, and we need to find them fast.

The world of men depends on it–the world depends on it.

An Inevitable Battle: Men Vs. the Evolving World

For as long as we have been around, men’s purpose in the world has been clearly defined.

We were the hunters, the providers, and the protectors. Entrusted with maintaining some form of order in our families and world without, we men, are hardwired biologically and neurochemically to serve a unique and distinct purpose. For so many thousands of years, that was what it meant to be a man. It defined us!

Then, the world changed, and the expectations and duties that had for so long given us purpose in life vanished in a matter of centuries.

For the first time in the history of humanity, as we know it, men don’t have a clear purpose. We don’t know our place.

With the advent of technology and the mechanization of labor spurring us onward into the digital age, the need for masculine power has faded, and there isn’t much we can do about it. It is a necessary and inevitable conclusion to thousands of years of human evolution.

The question now is this: how do we move forward? How to be a real man in a hypermasculine world?

Today, “man” is a word without a definition–a being without an identity. Throughout my ten-plus years as a men’s coach, I’ve seen that this confused state of the world of men–this “masculinity crisis,” if you will–is one of the most threatening afflictions ravaging our world today.

We need to give the word “man” a definition, and men’s support groups will help us get there.

What is a Men’s Support Group?

A men’s support group is a group of men (typically 6-15 members) who get together regularly with the intentional goal of helping each other navigate difficult life circumstances, connect over shared experiences, and move forward in life and relationships.

You might be thinking that sounds like a group of friends. You’re not entirely wrong.

The main difference between a men’s support group and your weekend football group is the universal agreement to discuss sensitive topics, the exclusive nature, and the age variance of a men’s group.

Why are these three important?

Men need an outlet for their pain. They need a place to discuss what’s on their hearts to open their ears. They need a supportive group of guys who can help them deal with their mental health issues, learn how to express and control emotions, and eventually go on a journey of healthy self-discovery and personal growth.

This is exactly what a men’s support group does.

Don’t get me wrong! Your weekend get-together with your buddies is a precious part of your life that you should hold onto. A men’s group, however, is a group whose sole purpose is personal growth. They are there to learn from one another, push one another, and grow together.

They broach the subjects your football group tip-toes around: mental health, divorce, addiction, etc.

There are many kinds of support groups for men addressing many issues: addiction groups, religious groups, breakup support groups, career support groups, mental health support groups, no more mr. nice guy support groups,the list goes on.

This article will discuss men’s support groups as a general concept, as most share the same defining attributes.

5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Men’s Support Group

Men’s support groups have been a game-changer for many men in the modern world.

These groups provide a safe and supportive space for men to come together and discuss the unique challenges and struggles they face in their daily lives. Whether dealing with mental health issues, managing emotions or navigating relationships, a men’s support group provides a space to share their experiences and gain the support and guidance they need to move forward.

With the ever-changing expectations and duties of masculinity in today’s world, it’s more important than ever for men to have a place to come together and support one another. Here are five reasons why you should also consider joining a men’s support group-

1. Men Can’t Go Alone

There is a common myth that, though unspoken, seems to infiltrate modern men’s minds somehow.

That is the idea that the most successful men–the famous figures throughout history–the Einsteins and Bill Gates of the world–worked alone. This idea is that to get anywhere meaningful in life, you need to shut up, tuck yourself into a deep, dark corner, and work.

The truth is, these men (and the vast majority of successful and looked-up-to men like them) had mentors and friends that aided them in their rise to fame and success. Einstein was deeply enmeshed in the science community of his day, and Bill Gates is quick to admit that he would have gotten nowhere in his ventures without the careful guidance of Warren Buffet.

Men can’t and shouldn’t do it alone.

Facing life is like sailing across the sea. You can do it alone in your little skiff, but you’ll barely make it to the other side alive.

If you want to make it and have a fantastic time along the way, you’ll need a crew to man your ship–men who know the sea and have weathered many storms just like the ones you’ll be facing.

Men’s support groups provide that support and guidance.

2. Improvement Takes Intentionality

Many men try to get through life indirectly. They follow their feelings and emotions and hope things will pan out how they like.

They look at the ripped guy in the magazine and say, “Damn, wish I looked like that!” while stuffing their face with potato chips. They are the talkers and the wishers–the “if only I had time” guys.

Joining a men’s group is taking an intentional step in the right direction. It’s taking your screwed-up life and deciding that it’s been screwed up long enough.

Men’s groups know the damaging effects of a life lived passively. These men know their personal growth requires a group of like-minded men to give feedback, support, and build an intentional community.

They know that to reach your full potential and succeed in life and relationships, you need others.

Here are four ways that men’s support groups are intentional about improvement:

  • Commitment: Unlike your weekend football get-together, men’s support groups require members to commit to the attendance of each meeting. This fosters a sense of togetherness and reliance on one another. Men know they have to be there, so they might as well benefit while they’re there.
  • Format and Structure: Men’s support groups approach each meeting in a structured way. They usually have a regimented schedule that encourages each member to step forward and say something, followed by closing statements and more casual social follow-ups.
  • Cost: While this isn’t the case for every men’s support group, many groups have a membership fee. While this may sound strange, it is essential. I have seen very few quality men’s support groups that don’t charge members to be a part of. Without a fee, people tend to skip meetings, and groups tend to fall apart. The groups tend to be more productive when men feel they are there for a reason.
  • Accountability: A good men’s group will build some form of accountability between members. Men should be able to share their addictions (Porn, drinking, technology, food) and know that the guys around them care for them enough to hold them accountable for their actions.

3. Support Groups Create Lifelong Friends

While you may not be entering a men’s support group to find friends, you will undoubtedly leave with lifelong companions.

Oftentimes some of the guys in your group end up being the same ones standing by your side at your wedding.

Now, that’s not to say that you’ll hit it off will all the guys in your group. A part of what makes a men’s support group so beautiful is the variety of backgrounds and ages, and personalities it brings together.

Young men get the chance to learn from those who have gone ahead of them, and old men get the opportunity to see their life’s situations in a way that sometimes only the innocent clarity of youth can provide.

Support groups do create some of the deepest, long-lasting friendships.

4. Vulnerability is Dead Among Men

When was the last time you felt completely free to express your feelings to someone?

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ve got that one friend you who share everything with. Perhaps your relationship with your wife allows you to connect over such vulnerable matters.

While these connections are extremely valuable, having a small group of guys with whom you can share your life outside your inner circle can be a game-changer.

These men can hear your story with fresh ears, respond to your situation objectively, and challenge you to be better in the ways they see fit.

Vulnerability among men has been dead for millennia, but support groups are turning this around.

5. The Self-Acceptance Movement is Killing Self-Improvement

Self-acceptance is a two-piece puzzle, but the world chooses only to work with one.

Self-acceptance, by definition, is an individual’s acceptance of all the things that make them–positive or negative. The world, however, has twisted and tweaked this definition into an almost recognizable shape.

They say self-acceptance is learning to view every part of yourself as a positive–the negatives result from factors beyond your control. Unhealthy turns to plus-sized, arrogance turns to confidence, and pretty soon, we’ve all lost touch with reality.

Self-acceptance, by that definition, kills self-improvement. To become a new man, you must accept your shortcomings as part of the ride while doing your best to fix them.

Self-acceptance–the self-acceptance that men’s support groups are after–is about acknowledging your good and bad parts, applauding the good, and dealing with the bad.

Men’s support groups know the importance of recognizing the good, but they also know that you must fix the bad to move forward in life.

4 Things that Set Apart Life-Changing Men’s Groups from the Rest

Like anything in life, there are good men’s groups, and there are bad ones.

The right men’s group will be life-changing for all members involved. The wrong group will be a tragic waste of time and money.

To help you find the right group, here are four of essential attributes of a successful men’s group:

1. Solution-Oriented Discussion

If you find your group dancing around issues or doing too much back-rubbing and comforting, the likelihood is you’re not part of a productive team.

While one purpose of these groups is to provide needed support in difficult times, another is to find solutions to problems and answers to questions.

Men should feel comfortable critiquing and advising and being criticized themselves. An awkward, reserved mood in the group does nothing for anyone.

2. Perfect Privacy

Perfect privacy is an absolute prerequisite to any vulnerability.

When men share information about their finances, relationships, career, or depression, they need to know that they are safe and no ears outside of the group will ever hear anything.

For a support group to function effectively and efficiently, the environment created by the members must encourage the discussion of sensitive topics without fear.

3. Transparency and Openness

Closely related to privacy and solution-oriented discussion, support groups also thrive off of a transparent and open atmosphere.

If members of a support group feel withdrawn or unwilling to share, there is an issue in the group. That’s not to deny that certain personality types or particularly tumultuous pasts won’t result in an understandable reservation or withdrawn feel, just that this should not be an atmosphere perpetuated by the group itself.

A good group will have men leaping off their chairs to share, eager to get things off their chests and take in the advice of their fellows.

4. Promised Commitment

As stated above, support groups tend to go much better when the men that comprise them have some skin in the game.

Even just for the sake of human psychology, having a small fee or investment results in more productive meetings and more investment from the group.

I have seen a few free groups work fine, but generally speaking, groups with some form of membership fee are the ones that thrive.

Takeaways

Finding an uplifting and reliable men’s group can be extremely difficult, but when you do succeed, the result will be life-changing.

I’ve seen men going through the worst life has to offer have their lives turned upside-down. A good men’s group will completely restructure your perspective on life, give you a place to dump pent-up emotions, and leave you with steadfast friends for the rest of your life.

The modern world of men is under siege from all sides, and we need places to turn. We need crutches to lean on in the storms of life and open ears to hear our whispers for help when we haven’t the voice to cry out. We need men to man our ships in our crossing of the seas of life.

Men can’t go alone–we must realize that. Improvement–forward steps of any sort–take intentionality and accountability, self-acceptance, and the acknowledgment of a need for self-improvement.

In a world where vulnerability seems reserved for the other gender, men need men’s groups.

If any of my words have sparked interest or you are looking for a men’s group, we have what you need. Over years of experimentation, try and try again, we have created the most impacting men’s support groups on the planet.

These are brotherhoods–groups of men of all different backgrounds and life experiences who have come together for one purpose: to see their impact as men on this earth is maximized. They are the best fathers, husbands, and men the world could ask for.

These are not complaint groups or gatherings for grovelers. These are not men who ended up here or wandered in from the street. These men have taken their lives into their own hands with intentionality and purpose. They know where they’re going and that they won’t be going alone.

Alone is slow. Alone is pain. Alone is years of meaningless wandering in a foreign land without a map. We have a map. It’s time to stop going alone.

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