I have been learning so much from the book “The Middle Passage” by Dr. James Hollis. Dr. Hollis is a Jungian analyst who has worked much with those who struggle to change in midlife.
He says one of the three main areas of concern as we age, is the way we relate to others in our lives, and these problems are too often compounded if you are a male.
Granted, this book was written back in the early 1990s, but I was still surprised to find the harshness of his assessment of men and their ability to connect with their deeper feelings.
The main problem is male conditioning, which teaches men to avoid their deepest feelings, instinctual wisdom and inner truth, making them strangers to their deepest needs. Let’s face it, too many men in our culture only value themselves for how much money they make, and how much power they have over others.
There are surprisingly few models in our culture which permit a man to be honest with himself and others. When asked how he feels, too many men will tell you instead what they think, or begin to problem solve for you.
How are women supposed to have good relationships with men, when most men have even less of a relationship with themselves?
Robert Hopcke, a renowned therapist, assessed working with men this way: “It takes a man about one year in therapy before he is able to internalize and be present to his actual feelings – a year to reach where women are usually able to begin.”
Our singular task at midlife is to ask ourselves: “What do I want? How do I feel? And what do I need to do to feel right within myself?”
How many men allow themselves the luxury of asking themselves these key questions and then answering them honestly?