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Woodshop Wisdom #8 – Looking for a Fight?

by | Woodshop Wisdom

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 communityWe 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 got home from a long day at work and just as I walk in the door, I can tell she’s already pissed! I get that look from her and I know that something is wrong and I am the one who is about to catch hell.  It’s like I can’t seem to do anything right.  What am I supposed to do when there is no room for error?  Do I ever get to relax?

Man, I remember I used to call home on my drive back from work.  I wondered to myself what mood she was in today and what I should expect when I got there. 

I was taking the “temperature” of the atmosphere at home.  If she was happy, it was going to be a good night.  If she was cranky, I knew I had some work ahead of me to try to make her happy again.  It was going to be a long evening of guessing at everything she needed done.  Sometimes I would guess correctly. Sometimes it took longer just to figure out what button to press to make all the bad feelings go away.  Some nights I would simply avoid it all together. 

I hated the conflict.  I hated myself for not being man enough to fix it.

I found out far too late I was using the wrong thermometer to measure the temperature of my feelings.

It took me two therapists and finally a coach to help me understand I was responsible a large portion of this dynamic.  The therapists pointed out I was internalizing someone else’s emotions and that it was damaging to the relationship and to myself. 

It was a classic codependent behavior.  I needed to be responsible for my feelings, and coincidentally I needed to let her be responsible for hers.  I needed my own thermometer to measure my sense of happiness.

It took my coach to help me see there was a way of being which was drastically different, much more authentic and incredibly liberating and healthy for me.

You see, I was already starting my evening with thoughts of needing to be a certain way to get an outcome I desired.  I believed “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I thought it was MY DUTY to change her if she was upset. 

I had pre-conceived notions that I was already guilty of the crimes she was about to charge me with.  Hell, half the time (probably way more than that!) it didn’t have anything to do with me. But I constantly made it about me when I wasn’t secure enough in myself to not take it personally.

I was bringing so much of my shit into the situation like my long hard workday and her “bad” attitude.  It didn’t leave any room for us to breath.  It left us no room to be individuals.  I swallowed up her emotions and swam in them the rest of the night.

I would absolutely crush it at work, sell a ton of jobs, put the finishing touches on some open accounts, and stack cabinets to the ceiling.  I would get in my car and then wonder how I should feel when I get home.  I should feel elated!  

So, what the hell changed from 5:00 pm to 5:30 pm when I got home? 

It was my perception of how I saw her and the predictions I was making about the evening. That’s what changed. None of it was based on fact. 

All of it was based on my fearful projections and thoughts about her feelings toward me.  This impeding sense of doom made me ready to show up for a fight.  Funny thing…I would always find one.  A self-fulfilling prophecy, I suppose.

Looking back, I brought that crap INTO the situation and I kept blaming the situation for the crap. 

Until one day, I decided to stop bringing crap home.  It was up to me to bring home better projections and better thoughts.

Almost instantly I felt drastically different, much more authentic and incredibly liberated and healthy.

Thoughts From The Woodshop

We bought a new edge-bander for shop awhile back.  An expensive piece of equipment that does a seemingly simple job but has complex moving parts and different stations to process the various actions it performs.  It has a pre-mill station, a gluing and application station, a tape trim, an end-trim, top & bottom trimmers, corner rounders, two sets of scrapers, a buffer, and a heat treatment station on the end. It also comes equipped with a glue-release mister to spray on the panel as it enters the input section of the machine.  It needs to be set-up for the thickness, width, and length of the panel, also the temperature of the glue, the thickness of the edge tape, the height of the edge tape. Each station has its own adjustments in all three axis.  Okay, long story short, she can be a bitch to have running well.  Did I mention we have to perform monthly maintenance and keep it very clean to operate well?  Clean in a sawdust filled woodshop…not an easy task.

It’s no wonder the inside joke at the shop is that we have to treat her well and talk really nice to her.  We don’t want to upset her.  Yes, we nicknamed “her” Emily.  She works very well when we are nice to her.

At the time of installation, an expert technician that came to install the machinery told me something I will never forget.  After spending hours aligning and adjusting, installing and testing, he spent another two hours showing us how it works and how to keep it performing well.  He stressed one thing very deliberately – “Shit in, shit out.”

He said, “This machine will give you a beautifully finished product out the other side, only if the panel and product going in is machined correctly before it enters the input area. If you try to band an edge that is not cut with precision and is true, you will get out exactly what you put in. Shit.”

Basically, don’t expect the machine to fix a product that is already crap before it goes into the machine.

Shit in, shit out…words to live by.

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.

Matt Epsky

Matt Epsky

As Co-Founder of Mentoring Men and a Certified Goodguys2Greatmen Men’s Coach student, Matt picks a question from the men’s community each week and uses the collective wisdom of the men's community to give an insightful response. Talk with Matt Epsky about making positive changes in your own life.
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