strong men

Father with familyFatherhood is probably one of the most difficult jobs you’ll ever take on in your life. It’s daunting and a little bit scary to think that the little baby you’ve helped to create is dependent on you and your partner for everything for the next few years. Okay, so maybe it’s a lot scary!

And face it. There’s no degree you can go to school for that will guarantee that you’ll excel at the job at hand. In fact, all you’ve really got are examples of fatherhood from your own father and others you know who have taken on the task before you.

So how are you going to manage to provide for the child what they will need in order to become healthy, happy, responsible adults? There are no set rules are there?

But here are some suggestions that might help you along the way:

  1. Break the patterns of the past. Take a look at your childhood experiences with your own dad. Are there aspects of it that you feel didn’t work for you? Are there things you’d like to change? Was there too much control, judgment and criticism and not enough love, compassion and quality time?
    Pay attention to your own tendencies to be the same way and question how effective those tactics are. Then find a way to change how you parent.
  2. Self-Awareness.  Our first teachers are our parents. We learn most of what we know about life from them in the first three to four years. Be aware of how you behave, how you deal with stress, your relationship conflicts. What do you do with anger? How do you honour yourself and what are your beliefs? Children are sponges and are observing and absorbing your behavior from the day they’re born. Make sure you are setting the best example you can and if you can’t set the kind of example you need to then get help before it’s too late.
  3. Age appropriate freedom of choice. It is important to teach children how to make choices for themselves. It’s how they learn to make healthy ones. They need to understand consequences as a part of the decision-making process.
    Now at a very young age, it’s obvious they are not equipped to make all their own decisions but starting off with age appropriate decisions is a way to ease them into this learning. Offer options along with the consequences that result from each choice and most importantly, follow through with the consequences once the choice is decided upon.
    For instance: “If you’d like a brownie before dinner that will be counted as your dessert and you won’t get one after your meal.” If they choose the brownie now, ensure that you follow through even if they cause a fuss. They will learn to make a healthier choice next time.
    This is a really difficult point. In general, parents want to keep their children safe and protected but sometimes things get carried away and they grow up too dependent on parents to get them through tough situations.
  4. Be present. This is a term that is used quite a bit lately, maybe even overused. But it is an important one because it is the foundation of a good relationship with anyone, including your children. Put away the electronics and spend some quality time with playing or talking with your kids. Let them know you value what they have to share by really listening and acknowledging them.
    Sit down to dinner as a family and talk about the day’s events and happenings. If you feel too stressed from your work day when you get home, excuse yourself for a short time so that you can decompress, let go of the stress and they day’s hardships. When you rejoin your family, feeling more relaxed and ready to engage with them you can enjoy the time spent together. You’ll feel better for it and they will learn to take care of their stress in a healthy way by your example.
  5. Let compassion and love be your guiding force. Always approach your children with a loving heart even if they have made mistakes. Think of how you would want to be treated in similar circumstances and pass that on to your child. No mistake is ever bad enough to withhold love from a child. Remember that with loving guidance they will learn to make healthy choices for themselves and grow to be healthy, happy human beings.

So have fun with your role as father, don’t stress about doing the right thing. Allow your inner wisdom to lead you and you’ll be the kind of father you’ve always hoped to be with lasting, loving relationships with your children for a lifetime.

With love and kindness

Bettina

Manwithheart

When someone puts the words heart-centered and men in the same sentence there may be a little bit or a lot of fear that comes up for men. After all, that heart, mushy, lovey stuff is really a woman’s territory and any man who enters may be looked upon as a sissy.

I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case. That it’s possible to live from your heart and still be a sports-loving, beer drinking, weight-lifting man’s man. Who knew?

Here are a few myths about men living a heart-centered life that I’d like to dispel:

  1. “I have to give up my successful career and go teach yoga or something”.

    A common misconception about letting go of driving ambition and stress is that you must give up a successful career and settle for something a little more meditative. Not so. You can still have a high-powered job and actually approach it from a much more meaningful, purposeful place. Let go of the feeling of being driven and embrace the passion of what you’re doing, accept what is in front of you and allow yourself to feel empowered from within. Let it be less about the pay cheque and more about your passion for what you do. Letting go of the need to succeed and just enjoying the ride can help you to let go of stress and enjoy your work.
    If you don’t feel inspired or you don’t feel appreciated, then maybe it’s time to reassess, not the job that you have but how you show up for it every day.

  2. “People will see me as a sissy or more like a woman”.

    Living from the heart does not make you more feminine, soft or a wuss. In fact there are some very strong, masculine men who live in a state of loving presence and are admired and revered as great men because of their ability to connect with their heart. They inspire many men while not being afraid to express their vulnerability or to be completely honest and open about how they feel. Make no mistake, you will still be a strong and powerful man. But what you do give up is the force, control and push behind your words and actions. Characteristics that build resentment and disempowerment in others. Your power comes from within accompanied by a knowing that inspires and motivates other to feel empowered and that makes you a real man who is looked to for guidance and with respect.

  3. “I have to give up everything I have and live with very little.”

    It’s not about what you have that but more about your attachment to what you have to give you a feeling of fulfillment, power, success or peace. You can feel all those things whether you have nothing or have it all. Heart-centered living means you put it all into perspective and don’t put too much weight on what you have and more on how you feel. And that makes life a whole lot easier. Using people, places or things to fill a void in your life causes neediness and desperation and neither of these traits are particularly attractive or manly, nor do they evoke strength of character or respect for yourself or from others. Keep the stuff and let go of the idea that it’s making you happy.

  4. “I have to give up all the manly things I do like sports, nights out with the guys, drinking and smoking.”

    Okay, so smoking isn’t really very good for you so you may consider giving that one up, but there is no reason why you can’t live from your heart and still enjoy the more masculine experiences that life has to offer. Have fun, enjoy yourself, lift that heavy object for your mate, play a little football whether on the field or from your couch. Get together with your buddies and enjoy life. But do it with respect, compassion and a healthy portion of moderation. It’s when these activities are taken to extremes and hurt you or someone you love that you may need to take a good hard look and question what you may be running from or avoiding. What lack are you trying to fill? Pay attention to the payoff you are seeking in these extremes. Are you avoiding looking at uncomfortable feelings that scare you? Check in with yourself honestly and shift from self-destruction to self-realization. Bring yourself to the present moment, be responsible and have a good time.

  5. “I have to give up my masculinity.”

    Real men live from the heart, practice compassion, tolerance, acceptance, kindness, tap into their inner wise man, their ability to inspire, motivate, empower and their self-respect. And that is more masculine than anything else.

Go ahead. Tap into your heart. Make the connection between head and heart and really see and feel your full potential. There’s nothing more masculine than standing in your power.

 

The return of the Gentleman

January 24, 2014

Heart-centered living

When I tell people that I teach heart-centered living to the modern urban man it most often piques their interest and they ask for a more detailed explanation. I always give an effective, well-thought out description that helps them to understand what it is I am offering to men.

But most recently a word that has come to mind and been very persistent in garnering my attention is Gentleman. The word itself is not new or even trendy and yet it fits so perfectly into the description of the work I do that I cannot ignore it.

It’s a compound word that when broken down has such great meaning – Gentle Man.

Most men would be flattered to be called a gentleman. It is great praise, a compliment and says a lot about the man’s character. It exudes power and inspiration and it is definitely the definition of a man who lives from his heart.

Here are 10 characteristics of a gentleman:

  1. A gentleman isn’t afraid to give another person the space to express themselves while listening mindfully and with genuine interest.
  2. A gentleman can allow tears to flow without fear of losing his masculinity or the respect of others.
  3. A gentleman will open doors, pay for dinner and stand up when a woman enters a room, not because she is less than him or the gentler sex but because he respects her even when she insists that she can open the door herself.
  4. A gentleman wants to feel wanted and needed even if his partner is quite capable of looking after themselves.
  5. A gentleman will not be concerned about being better or the best in comparison to others but more concerned about being better than he was yesterday and knowing he always does his personal best.
  6. A gentleman is not forceful or controlling but is empowered and empowers others through acceptance and openness.
  7. A gentleman can express his deepest feelings or vulnerability to his partner or his best friend without fear of being mocked.
  8. A gentleman can be strong and rugged or soft and caring with equal ease.
  9. A gentleman can stand before others with strong self-esteem, knowing who he is as a man and be totally comfortable with it.
  10. A gentleman is admired, respected and looked to for wisdom just because he is confident to be his authentic self.

Endearing, strong, caring, outspoken, compassionate, protective, sensitive, funny, loving, purposeful, gentle, rugged, poetic, matter-of-fact, engaging, commanding. These are all characteristic of the gentleman – gentle man. And all of these are executed with peace, generosity of spirit and equality of power.

So now when people ask me to explain further what I do, I’ll be adding, “I help men to rediscover the gentleman in themselves.”

Think about how you can rediscover the gentle man in you.