Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s community. We give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively.
Let’s get started.
I drove by my old house the other day. There was a truck in the driveway. It was there the next morning too. I know this because I went back again to see if it was still there. This is tearing me up. My mind is racing with questions. I can’t focus on anything but wondering what she is doing, who she is with, and what the hell happened to my life. I feel lost, distracted, and sick to my stomach most of the time. When do I get a break from this torture? How do I make this stop?
Brother, I know exactly what this feeling is like. I already hadn’t been eating, sleeping, and taking care of myself and then, seemingly out of nowhere, came the straw that breaks the camel’s back – the new man in her life.
For me, this started a devastating shame spiral in which I felt I lost all control of my emotional well-being. I was having a cross between a panic attack and full-on mental breakdown. The monkeys in my mind were screaming in my head and I could not get them to stop…
“What kind of man are you?”
“You are pathetic.”
“You are unlovable.”
“You deserve this.”
“You are nothing.”
Further and further down I went into the abyss of self-abuse, self-loathing, and self-destruction. It was gut wrenching. I felt as if everything I thought I was, was being stripped away. I wanted the pain to go away. I was completely alone, and I would be for the rest of my life.
Alone…wait a minute…
No one was there doing anything to me…
I was alone…
In that moment I finally heard a faint whisper among the crying, critical voice that was mercilessly beating me up. What did it say?
You are loved.
Like a bolt of lightning, it struck me. It was as if I had been forgetting this thing that I inherently knew, and I was waking up to its strength once again. I was coming home to something familiar that I knew fully in my heart.
You are loved.
I still didn’t know what the hell I was doing or where I was going from there. I still had an emptiness inside, except now it was being filled by something new. At least it was something I never tried before.
I decided that day to begin every action with the question: Is this loving myself if I choose this?
Try it for yourself. Commit to one week of asking yourself that question.
The next time you want to go pain-hunting and check to see what she is doing or who she is talking to, ask yourself that question. Is this loving?
Listen, take it from me, I spent 40 years never attempting to live by this simple standard of self-respect. It didn’t work. I had to at least try something different.
There is a Buddhist saying:
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”
“They say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. The first arrow is the actual bad event, which can indeed cause pain. The second arrow is the suffering. The suffering is our chosen reaction to the misfortune.”
If you want the pain to stop, take the arrow of suffering out of your chest.
I spent far too much time touching the arrow lodged in my heart by adding a whole lot of meaning behind why I got shot in the first place. I made stories about how I deserved it. I forgot that I was loved enough to move past the misfortune and begin to heal.
I want you to listen behind the loud chatter going on right now. I know you will hear truth in these words. You are loved.
You will never drive past her house with the same intent if you start to believe that simple statement.
That truth is inside of you, under the false belief that you don’t deserve it.
Thoughts From The Woodshop
Barnwood. It is all the rage right now. 100-year-old, reclaimed, dirty, splintered, beat-up and abused barnwood. Around here, it can smell exactly how you think it does when animals have shit on it for a half a century and then set out in the rain for the other half.
We build all kinds of stuff with it. It does lend itself well to creating some unique pieces of art.
My favorite moment is when the wood hits that first pass on the planer. Much like unwrapping a present we get to see firsthand the beauty that lies within once those first layers of neglect are removed. Every piece is different, every piece is special, every piece is beautiful.
Much like all of us really. We all have our periods of weathering the storms life sends our way. We get beat-up and neglected and seasoned by events that happen to us. What we forget is that underneath those scars is the beauty and uniquely perfect creation we were meant to be.
This is your reminder today. You are perfectly imperfect and made for each and every moment you are in. Remove the dust and dirt and lies hiding who you are truly meant to be.
Where to go from here?
I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.
It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?
Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads. We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community. This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.
We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7. This online men’s group is like none other out there. This is what we hear.
“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”
Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.