“Masculine” is practically a slur among many people in our country at this point.

It’s not hard to see why. Over the past few millennia men in their heart-closed dominant expression have forged forward to materialize their intentions of expansion and power with little or no attunement to the impact of their actions. They cannot feel what they create in the world around them, only the numb drunkness of progress and conquest.

But here’s one thing that I know… It’s that hurt people hurt.

(Also, it’s that those who heal themselves heal others.)

…with no exceptions that I’ve yet experienced.

The man who was taken to court for sexual harassment was himself abused and beaten. And he learned to turn off his empathy.

The man who has crossed boundaries of consent was himself raped as a boy. And it destroyed his innocence.

The man who yelled at, slapped, or hit her in violence witnessed his own father doing the very same thing to his mother. And it crushed his heart.

Even the man who stands by and does too little or nothing at all while others suffer has himself suffered greatly at the hands and hearts of those he has loved the most.

By the way, this all holds just as true for the liberal left leaning social activist as it does the right leaning conservative Trump voter member.

Pain knows no boundaries of political ideology, gender, race, or religion.

Yes, members of my mostly left-leaning community, you are not excused from the paradigm of perpetuating trauma simply because you are fighting the “good fight”. Your light AND your shadow will be infused into and expressed through the fabric of your expression and creation.

To the extent that you have not healed your own heart You. Will. Perpetrate. Violence.

Perhaps by overtly othering and vilifying “them” by thought, word, and action. Perhaps by standing by and doing nothing. Perhaps through passive aggressive expression. Perhaps through the withholding of the fullness of your magnificence and human expression. Perhaps against your own, precious self in the ways you treat your body and (mis)tend to your own emotional needs.

So what does it mean to heal?

It means to feel your pain.

Not in a stuck, victimy, cyclical way. Continuing to suffer whether by playing the martyr or weaponizing your pain against others is the easy way out.

The way “in” can be terrifying yet exponentially more potent.

It is to let your heart break wide open. It is to trust that you will be held and loved and supported in that place. It is to find and immerse yourself in environments that are loving and supportive. It is to put yourself in environments that are so loving and supportive that they won’t let you off the hook either, not until you’ve healed all the broken parts of you, and that healing is showing up through more than just your platitudes, but in every moment through your actions. Even when nobody is watching you.

(Which will not happen until the day you die.)

It is to deeply acknowledge, feel, and re-integrate the parts of yourself that you’ve othered and have least wanted to acknowledge…

The part of you that yearns to express power or domination that you made wrong and shoved into the depths of your heart – only for it to come out violently in a moment of passion, or over the years in a thousand passive aggressive and emotionally manipulative ways against those you most love (or hate).

The part of you that has been shattered and broken by violence and perpetration.

The part of you that has known tremendous loss. Of people, places, or things you’ve loved. Of the visions you’ve held for a relationship, your life, or the state of the world.

The parts that you’ve covered up in your stories of suffering, lack of self worth, disconnection with women or other men, and isolation.

Or the parts of you that you’ve covered up in your drive to create a life, more money, a business, or even a movement.

The walls surrounding these parts are thick and strong. You cannot open those gates alone. You will not create the world you want until you have begun to do so.

You want a healed world? Heal yourself.

You want a healed world? HEAL YOURSELF.

You want a healed world? H.E.A.L. Y.O.U.R.S.E.L.F.

It’s that simple and yet it’s also that hard. This work is truly courageous, and it’s a courage that, heartbreakingly, too few have found within themselves. And so, hurting, they go on to hurt.

And you. Are you devoted to the most courageous path?

Our culture pedestalizes the man who climbs a mountain or fights a war, but it vilifies the man who feels his grief and his pain. This is an expression of the hyper masculine culture of heart-closed dominance that we’ve ALL been entrained to embody in some form or another.

This is the socialization we are all ultimately responsible to undo within our own hearts and bodies if we are to create the world we truly want to see.

This is the undoing that I’m blessed to witness over and over again within the men who attend the meetings, workshop, retreats that I get to create and provide.

This past weekend at our most recent Men’s Leadership Intensive I was deeply touched by the courage of the men present – allowing themselves to be cracked open to some of the deepest parts of themselves – both their pain and the Truth that lies on the other side of it.

I witnessed men doing the courageous work of allowing themselves to be held in their grief in ways they’d NEVER been held before.

I witnessed men allowing themselves to rage against the voices inside of their minds and hearts with a ferocity they’d NEVER let themselves tap into before.

I witnessed them cry in ways they never had. Share in ways they never had. Be seen, held, and supported in ways that they never had.

And I witnessed them leaving as new men. Men who will go on to do less harm and more healing. Men who will truly be that much more capable of creating the beautiful, equitable, and sustainable world that both they and I want to see.

It deepened and renewed my own devotion to this work. To the importance of this work. To the importance of creating spaces where justice can be truly restorative – not simply another patriarchal expression of punitive backlash. Where men who’ve in the past committed harm transmute their pain and go on to truly create goodness in their worlds. Where men are still held fully accountable to their actions, but in an entirely new way. Where the opposite of “bad man” is not “good man”… it’s “healed man”.

It deepened and renewed my devotion to the vision I hold of a world where we all – people of ALL genders, backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, political parties, etc. ad nauseam – come to embody a deeper devotion to healing the divides within ourselves and in the world around us.