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.
After months of separation, we finally had the talk. As we sat across from each other on the deck outside I explained to her I’ve changed. I told her I am doing the work to become a better man, a better husband. She said, with tears in her eyes, “I don’t trust you.” I don’t get it. I’ve never cheated, I’ve provided for the family, I have been her support. What I have done can’t be that bad. She said something about being safe emotionally. I don’t know where to go from here. How do I make her feel emotionally safe?
Short quick answer – you need to get in touch with YOUR emotions first. You need to be aware of them, understand them, accept them, and own them. (note: I say own them, the opposite being the emotions own us.) Once you can master that, you can give that gift of emotional safety to her. You create a container of safety for her to step into.
You are not changing her feelings, you are giving her a space in which she can feel more safe.
What are you feeling right now? Can you answer that in less than 5 seconds, even if it is just one word (other than “fine”)? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why not?
If you’re anything like me that answer was typically “I don’t know…why?”
That question wasn’t something I slowed down long enough to ask myself. What the hell did it matter what I was feeling, I had shit to do?!?!?
I found out far too late that how I was feeling was extremely important.
The way I was feeling was represented in how I was interacting with people.
At most times, I had no idea how I was feeling – whether it be annoyed, upset, excited, nervous, or scared. I can guarantee you though that the woman in my life picked up on something that was there, hidden under the surface.
When I wasn’t able to get in touch with what I was feeling and speak to it, it made her nervous. It made her doubt my ability to be in touch with myself, which in turn made her doubt she could trust me, see her, and understand her.
Let me give you an example – My woman had a tendency to ask, “What’s wrong?” To which I replied with a terse “Nothing.” A quick and cutting way of saying “leave me alone.”
[Now, in a perfect world she would have come up to me, rubbed my shoulders, pressed her body to mine, and whispered in my ear “Baby, you hard working, sexy man, you seem so stressed. Why don’t you eat this dinner I made for you, drink this ice-cold beer, and watch some football? I want to know everything about your day after you’ve had a chance to unwind.” – That’s not the woman I was with. My woman was sensitive, knowing, and persistent…and I loved her for it…most of the time.]
What she was looking for was my ability to be aware of how I was feeling, to know that I knew why I was feeling this way, and to have a direction to correct it. Instead, I cut her, and her intuition, down with a swift, walled-up answer. That answer led me to a lack of connection.
The alternative was to get in touch with myself and my emotions. I had to be able to understand them for what there are and what they mean. I had to raise my personal emotional intelligence game in order to connect with her.
Emotional Intelligence – the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
If we are asking her to trust us, we need to trust ourselves first.
We need to create a container of openness, acceptance, awareness, and compassion for our own emotions first. Then, we can show her exactly what it feels like to be in a space like that.
This work and this practice can happen immediately for you in a group of men currently working on these principles. Our group can model to you what that feels like and sounds like. It begins by telling us – “How are you feeling right now. What is your current emotional state?”
I know, right now, I am feeling grateful that you have read this far.
Thoughts From The Woodshop
I have customers that come in and sometimes they don’t quite know what they want their cabinets to look like. One of the first things I ask them is “What wood species would you like them built from?” They answer, “Well…I don’t know, what are our options?”
I then proceed to pull out samples, talk about the grain patterns, texture, hardness, and each of their unique tendencies to take stain. There are about 40 different domestically grown species of wood to choose from, var
I then proceed to pull out samples, talk about the grain patterns, texture, hardness, and each of their unique tendencies to take stain. There are about 40 different domestically grown species of wood to choose from, various ways for the boards to be cut from the logs, and different grades of lumber to choose from. There are many more exotic species as well, don’t get me started. We talk about cost and availability. I usually get a bit nerdy and throw out fast facts about where the tree grows, how tall it can get, or what the leaves look like. I took some forestry classes so my knowledge is more extensive than average but equally useless most of the time.
By the end of the conversation with them they usually have a good sense as to what they want, why they want it, and are generally excited about their decision.
I, on the other hand, could have guessed their chosen selection the minute they walked in and 99% of the time I would have guessed correctly.
The real reason we have these longer initial question and answer sessions is that they don’t know me. What they really need is a demonstration of my knowledge of the product, my confidence in my field, and to test my understanding of my role in designing for them something beautiful.
They don’t need to know that I buy my Select White Hard Maple (aka: sugar maple or acer saccharum) from the forests of the upper peninsula of Michigan or what it is kiln dried to and for how long.
They need to know that I know. They need to know that I understand what I am selling. Then they can trust me to be capable of understanding what they need.
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.