In this episode, I speak with Brad Mewhort, author of The Peaceful Man, about his mission to prevent male-on-male violence and end physical bullying... See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/the-peaceful-mans-journey-of-healing-and-transformation-with-brad-mewhort/#show-notes
In this episode, I speak with Brad Mewhort, author of The Peaceful Man, about his mission to prevent male-on-male violence and end physical bullying. Brad shares his personal journey of healing from the impacts of violence and how he has been supporting other men on their own healing journeys. Through facilitating groups and individual mentoring sessions, Brad incorporates body-based healing experiences and contemplative practices to help men find peace within themselves. Join us as we explore the importance of men healing from violence and how it can contribute to the flourishing of humanity and all of life on earth.
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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. Very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, author of The Peaceful Man: Heal Within Yourself the Personal Effects and Historic Patterns of Male-on-Male Violence; Mr. Brad Mewhort. Brad, my friend, how are you? What is happening in your world today?
Brad: Doing well, Michael. Thank you. It's a beautiful sunny February day, which is unusual where I live in the Seattle area, so really enjoying.
Michael: Nice. Good. I'm glad to hear that. I know that some people in the p and w are getting blasted by snow right now, so I do not miss those days, I can tell you that much. Man, you know, it's funny when I came across you and you and I had our first conversation and we're talking about your mission and your goals and what it is at you're doing and creating this conversation around violence, especially male on male violence, I was like, man, this is a powerful conversation like myself and many of our listeners, you know, I suffered tremendous violence at the hands of my stepfather men that I was around as a child, peers. I also, in turn was very violent, something that we see in this kind of secular generational pattern that starts to happen from informed behaviors. And so, I was really excited to bring you on to talk about this, before we dive in too deeply, I'd love for you to tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got to where you are today.
Brad: Sure. So, in the context of my book of this story, it started when I was in my early adolescence and I was being physically bullied quite severely, and that was escalating, it was getting worse and worse until I reached the point where I felt like I had no choice but to fight back. And as a result of that, being capable of violence and willing to use it actually became something that was very important to me in my adolescence, it seemed to me that the only way that I could be safe was to be capable of violence and in a sense, be crazy enough to be willing to use it such that I wouldn't be bullied, that I wouldn't be hurt. You know, the bullying had reached a point there was one incident in particular I didn't know if I was gonna walk away from it in a hole in my body, and that relationship to violence went into my early adulthood and in many respects, I would say I kind of matured past it, and yet it continued to affect me in ways. I realized at some point how much trauma I actually had from that, that leftover, from that violence that came through in various ways that really affected my life in negative ways.
And when I started to realize that, that sent me on a healing journey, which, you know, at first it, I didn't realize how much would be there, but over the last couple decades I've gone through repeated cycles of doing healing work to go deeper and deeper. And about around 2014, I engaged with various types of work, starting to work with other men on their healing journeys who had been exposed to violence and having a lot of conversations along those lines, leading to the book that I published recently.
Michael: Let's rewind a bit because I want to go deeper into this context. As I was getting into your work and as I was preparing for this conversation, I couldn't help but think about all the times I was bullied as a kid and its often kind of weird to reflect on it, ‘cuz like today I'm six foot four, 220, I've practiced martial arts for over a decade. You know, I grew up, I wrestled but like being the poorest kid literally, we were the poorest kid in the school. Me and my brothers, we stole food to survive, we were on the lunch card, we were on WIC and food stamps, we like, honestly, dude, I would still close from the lost and found and then kids would be like, that's my shirt. And I'd be like, no, it's not and then we would be fighting and it was like, I was reflecting on a lot of these experiences in youth and it was like, for me, it was being bullied in school, in sports, in Boy Scouts, kind of just fucking everywhere and then at home and it was like, I could never escape it. And that led to this thing where like, not only was I incredibly violent, not in a competitive way where it's mutual, right? Like martial arts or like football or basketball or things, it was so crazy, and he knows I talk about this. One of my little brothers actually wanted to stab me one day, like he grabbed a kitchen knife where like 11 years old and he is about to f**** kill me. And I'm like, we learned this. And so, I'm wondering, go into a little bit more about your childhood and your background and what those experiences were like for you, because I think that people don't truly understand what's going through kids' heads when these experiences are happening and I want to go into that a little bit deeper ‘cuz I know there's parents listening today.
Brad: Yeah. First of all, you know, I want to say I come from demographics that you actually might not expect experience that much violence. I grew up, you know, middle class, relatively safe neighborhood you wouldn't expect, actually looking at where I came from that I encountered nearly, nearly as much violence as I did. And that's one of where one of my perspectives comes from. This is so universal, even people you wouldn't expect, males, you wouldn't have expected to encounter a lot of violence they probably encountered some.
To answer your question more specifically.
I think maybe just getting into a couple of incidents in a little bit more detail, it might illustrate that most clearly. I was being bullied at school, this is where the most severe bullying was happening, and it was four or five boys who were usually all of whom were a lot bigger and bigger and stronger than me, and they were collectively, ganging up on me and bullying me and it had been getting worse and worse. And then there was this one incident where two of them grabbed each of my legs, so there was four of them there effectively having a tug of war with me, my legs being pulled apart. And I remember feeling terror in that incident, I didn't know if I was going to ever walk again, my hips were being pulled apart so strongly. And leading up to that incident at first, I didn't tell my parents about what was going on because I had a lot of shame about it. But eventually I did tell my parents and my dad took the perspective and, you know, the only way that you're going to end this bullying is if you fight back. He said, what you have to do is grab one of them and just start punching. And he said, it actually doesn't even matter if you win or lose. If you fight back, you're no longer an easy target. So, and he says, as soon as you're just engaged with one of them, it turns into a fight and the others will actually let that happen. And at first, I was like, that's crazy, I can't do that, they're all bigger and stronger than me, all get killed. But after this incident that I described where I was the rope in a tug of war something shifted for me. So, I'd almost say something snapped in me and the risk of fighting became less than the risk of letting that bullying continue.
So, I told my dad, okay, I want to do it. I'm ready to do it. I'll fight. And he made a punching bag for me and basically taught me to punch, you know, nothing very sophisticated, very, very rudimentary. But a couple days later at school, I was like, okay, when they come for me, I'm gonna fight back and I did. And exactly what he described would happen as soon as I'm engaged in a one-on-one fight with someone, the others will back off and let the fight happen, and much to my astonishment, I actually won the fight. And I'm gonna say that day really, you know, not that I was never bullied again, that's not true by any stretch of the imagination, but it was never so severe, it was never like it was before.
In a sense that's what made the capacity for violence so important to me for the rest of my adolescence, it seemed to me that my, in a sense, my very survival was dependent on being capable of violence and being willing to fight. And certainly, any sense of comfort in the world was dependent on violence, which is today I look back on it and it almost seems contradictory and yet that was very much my potentially irrational experience at the time, but nonetheless, my adolescent experience.
Michael: Yeah, I resonate with that a lot. I wish that I would've had a father figure to be like, yo, go fight this person. I found that out by accident like, I was just so fed up and we were on, I'll never forget we're on the school bus. I think I was in sixth grade this particular time, and I just went crazy on because I was just a very odd child. Right? And I know that about myself, just odd. Like I didn't have social skills, a lot of people thought that I probably had some kind of learning disability, which I probably do whatever, who cares? And so, I was a easy target. And it was literally through this moment of like, oh wait, if I punch this dude in the fucking face, he'll leave me alone. And that's what happened, that's what transpired and that started to play out in my life too, like fighting friends, fighting my parents, like all the time. And anyone who knew me as a teenager, they knew I was like, incredibly violent. Right? And it just seemed second nature, like it came to this point where it was like, I don't know how to be anything else, my words are violent, my actions are violent, my mentality is violent. I walked around with guns and knives and when I was in public settings, like I had keys between my knuckles all the time. Talk about like the most hyper-vigilant response known to man. And it's funny, like what you said, looking back on it now, 20 something years removed from that, it's like, man, what a different world that was. And one of the big pivoting things for me early on was realizing like I had actually turned into a bully myself. And you think about this concept of generational trauma and impact and I can't help but think that those boys who picked on you, who picked on me, God knows what was happening in their homes. God knows what was happening with their parents. And I know that's one of the things that you talk about and we'll get into that a little bit deeper. But what I'm curious about is like, what was the impact? Like how did this affect you once you got out of school, right? Because like school's a lie, man, that shit's nonsense, it's not even real. And then you get into the world and it's like, yo, I got fired from jobs from being violent, not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I got fired from jobs for being verbally abusive to people and I was like, dude, what the fuck? Like, you know, and it was like there was difference. And so, I'm wondering like, what was life for you after school? You're in your late teens, you're in your twenties, you're in this real world like what was happening now?
Brad: Yeah. Well, I mean, so a couple different things. You know, I joined the military when I was 19, and when I look back on it, you know, why did I choose to do that. In a sense, it was looking for even more capacity for violence that's what I knew, that was the way to be safe, to be a man, to be strong is to go for greater capacity for violence.
Michael: I wanna interrupt you really quick. Were you cognizant of that?
Brad: No, I really wasn't. It was more like the water I was swimming in at the time. You know, I never got deployed anywhere or anything in the military I had, that was before all there was so many active wars, etcetera. So, I didn't experience that level of violence and trauma, etcetera, but I look back on that as really being an expression, a very misguided expression of what I had learned about violence. So, that would be the first thing is that I didn't even know how the extent to which that was the lens I was seeing everything through. And then as I got older, you know, you mentioned this vigilance that you had and realizing that, okay, I may not be encountering violence very much now in my adult life, and yet I had this vigilance that was irrational in a sense and I recognize that, that I couldn't let go of, in a sense, you know, I wouldn't have labeled it that way right in my relatively early adulthood. But I would look at it now as I was anxious. Even at moments, you know, going into actual fear just like hearing a sound, a sudden sound and I'm ready to fight and just without even thought going on. And so, realizing this anxiety that I was carrying and realized how much of a load that was.
Michael: Yeah. It's fascinating when you look at it and you understand yourself better. And I didn't understand myself at all, I was so removed. You know, you talk about this idea about being dissociated. The brain and the body being removed from each other as a survival mechanism to violence, to stimulus of trauma. And now I look, I go, man, I had PTSD since I was like six years old and it was car doors would close, my stepdad would come home, loud noises on the television, something would break like all of these things I would feel it in my body so incredibly, which so many people do, and I just thought that was normal. And it was incredible to me when I got deep into this healing journey where I was like, that's not normal at all, actually did. It's normal 15,000 years ago, 10,000, 5,000, 2000 even 500 years ago, probably normal. Right? Today in the world and the society that we live in, it should not be normal, but it is. And I think that's one of the things people miss.
Brad: Right. It shouldn't be normal in a sense it doesn't need to be normal and yet I would also say it's commonplace that, you know, and certainly there's very different degrees of the amount of violence that boys encounter growing up, but I don't think very many actually escape it all together. And it is so commonplace and our society, you know, all these boys will be boys, it's very accepting of violence in some ways even glorifying of violence, you know, they're all heroes because they're capable of violence. And so, I think that a lot of boys just kind of discount like, oh yeah, violence well, of course, like, I mean, or no, it wasn't very severe, so I wasn't affected by it, and yet actually it doesn't take a lot of violence, you know? Nevermind, actually there being a lot of violence to actually leave some trauma in its wake.
Michael: Yeah, I mean, any of the research, I mean, I've interviewed anyone from Gabor Maté, Dr. Anna Lembke, Dr. Caroline Leaf, I mean amazing people who study this as a life dedication and they all one experience is all it takes to set the precedent. And you're so right, as you're talking, I was like, who are my heroes as a kid? Right? And they were like GI Joe and Army and X-Men, right? And I saw the movie Sniper with Tom Berenger when I was probably my favorite films as a child, were sniper with Tom Berenger and Full Metal Jacket and there's no reason a eight year old should be watching those films. And so, as a teenager, my number one goal, I wanted to be a Marine corps scout sniper, and then because of some injuries I couldn't get through meps, blah, blah, blah, right? And it's fascinating now as I kind of reflect in real time, and I'm thinking like, who are the heroes today? They all carry guns, they're Jack reacher, they're Marvel guys and like, I get it. Right. I mean, even probably one of my favorite heroes of all time is Rocky. I mean, Rocky, if you watch the film is really a love story, but there's still this entanglement of violence in it. And so, what I'm thinking in real time, it's like, how do you even combat that? It's like the same conversation around sex, like it's everywhere, but people don't talk about it. So how do you navigate when you're like, man, I'm always feeling triggered, I'm always feeling in hypervigilant and I always feel outside of my body, but it's everywhere like, Brad, what do you do, man?
Brad: Well, on a societal level, I think it's really difficult to combat directly, even that word I use combat it or fighting it. I think that the deepest solution, really the only long-lasting solution that's going to have a major impact is for individual men to go on their healing journeys, to do their healing work and for enough men to do that work to really shift the way things are, the perspectives. And you know, I think things have gotten better, let's say, in my lifetime and they have a long way to go, that's not to say we're almost there, not by any stretch of the imagination, it's like we're a little bit further along, but there's a lot further to go and I see that just individual men doing their deep healing work and really in a sense, overcoming their individual trauma so that they don't spread it. You know, you mentioned this, the patterns, the cycles of violence I think the violence that we see in some sense, it's all cycles that probably goes back centuries to the Middle Ages when things were, you know, ridiculously more violent than, than they are now, maybe even goes back further than that. And the way I see it, when a man experiences, let's say, when a boy experiences his body being disrespected, his boundaries being violated, that boy learns that bodies and boundaries are not something to be that need to be respected, he actually learns to do that to others. And this is not to say that all boys, all men who are victims of violence will go on to commit violence. And yet I'm willing to bet that there are not very men who act violently, who haven’t been victims of violence themselves. In fact, I would be willing to bet that it's extraordinarily rare for someone to commit violence who hasn't already been a victim of it.
So, this is where the importance I think of doing the healing work is men, you know, and I'm focusing on men because that's men doing their healing work because that's who commits the most violence and it seems to me, you know boys will be boys, the violence against boys and men is often kind of discounted or accepted. And so there's so much violence committed against men by other, other men, boys and men, and I think doing individual men doing their healing work is the way of breaking these cycles, such that on both small and large scales, this violence doesn't get committed against others and we break these cycles.
Michael: Yeah. And you know, I'd be hard pressed not to say that part of me knows that as humans, we are prone to violence, it's our nature. Go look at, we live in the safest time ever. This is what people don't understand. We live in the safest time ever. Humans have been so terrible to each, like, dude, it's f*** crazy what we've done to each other over the time that we've been here. And yet we live in the safest time of all time. And I think that there has to be a healthy expression of violence ‘cuz boys will be boys like I do think that, but there has to be this healthy expression of, that's why I love sports, I love martial arts, I love the discipline involved in it and that's how I fell into it. Right. Sports without martial arts, God knows what the kind of shit I would've really started to do, not that I didn't do some really f** up stuff. And I think about that today, how it served me. Martial arts has given me discipline, it's given me the ability to handle really difficult moments of my life. And also, here's what's really interesting, and I don't know if I'm curious if your military training has given you this because when I learned to defend myself, I realized I never have to use it and that's been this really beautiful journey for me. And getting into healing, and I want to go into your story a little bit more in depth here. I realized I was never violent physically in relationships, like intimate relationships with women, I was never violent ‘cause I saw my stepdad beat up my mom and I was like, I don't want to do that. But my God man, the verbal violence was unbelievable, not only what I would say to myself, but what I would say to my partners, to my brothers, even my friends, and it was like I hit this rock bottom moment. And I was like, you gotta change everything dude, you're destroying everything in your path. And I don't think most, and I'm gonna speak as a man ‘cause I am a man, I don't think most men realize it ‘cuz we grow up believing that it's okay to be this way. And then it's reinforced through society like we're talking and then in your home and bullying and things of that nature. And so, I'm wondering, it took my life becoming a complete disaster for me to address this thing that was destroying me. And I'm wondering what happened for you? Like what was your journey into healing like where did that begin?
Brad: Well, it really started in my first marriage, it was not going well and I was really, you know, specifically looking to, you know what, I take that back that actually that was actually kind of what came secondarily. I was having health issue and was getting nowhere, you know, dealing with them in kind of a medical, physical type of way, there's nothing there. It was actually a hypnotherapist who I first worked with, and it was kind of like as soon as I just started pulling back the cover on all of what I was feeling, all of the trauma that I just kind of like, put in a box and moved beyond in some ways, at least from on a superficial level my life looked like it was going pretty well at that point, but I wasn't feeling that I was struggling and I've in a sense always been very good at keeping my life together in terms of going through school, career, etcetera. So, it looked like things were going well, but they weren't really, emotionally I was kind of a mess and it was kind of the physical issues I was having that started to pull back the layers, and as soon as it did, it was just kind of like, oh, wow, yeah, there's a lot here that I need to work on. So, it wasn't so much of a rock bottom for me as what I had put away, repressed, just finding a way to the surface, not accepting the repression, which I think is the way it, you know, its repression is rarely going to be long lasting. And in a sense, you know, I'm glad it came out for me in as mild away as it did when I was relatively young so that I could be forced to work on it at that point, ‘cuz it certainly can go a lot longer, a lot deeper.
Michael: I don't know if you've ever read, the Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk?
Brad: I have.
Michael: Yeah. Anyone listening like you must read that it's a must read for life. It's an arduous read like you're going on a journey but like it's a read worth having and he actually opens up talking about people in the military, like I think it's one of the most really interesting parts of the book. But I'll lemme step back from that. Your body, your physical being, this vessel that we are in, it seeks peace, you cannot be in a constant fight or flight state and expect to be happy, healthy, worthy, abundant, full, joyful, love, you just can't because the body was always in combat. You use that word and I think that is the word that fits this most significantly. And I realize like as you're talking about these things starting to show themselves, when you stuff it down and stuff it down, it's coming out whether you like it or not, like you better get your ass ready ‘cuz it is coming and it will not be pretty and you're going to learn a lot which I think is really beautiful. There's a beauty in the suffering of that beginning of this journey.
Brad: I would agree. And I do think the body aspect of it is so important. You know, violence, when we're victims of violence, the violence is happening against our bodies. When we're violent with someone else, we're doing it with our bodies. And incidentally, I do think committing violence is traumatizing as well that leads trauma in its wake as well. And so ultimately, I think the healing it really needs to be in the body and what you say about, you know, the difficulty of experienced so many, you know, positive things, the potential for life to be so beautiful and wonderful in so many ways when we have all of these emotions, all of this trauma stuff down, it really is hard, it's difficult to access, to experience fully those aspects of life. And in encouraging men to do healing work, you know, it's for themselves, for just to be able to really experience their lives in as beautiful a way as possible so that as much success and contribute to the world in the way they want to. And it's also for their families so that they don't spread the violence they experienced onto partners, children, anyone they come in contact with in extreme ways, but also even in subtle ways. You know, I think even if you know someone who's been a victim of violence, who's just learned to bottle those up, maybe they have the restraint not to be physically violent with others, but it can come through in other ways that probably not as bad in general as punching someone, being physically violent with someone, and yet also far from ideal.
Michael: Yeah. Oh man, you're so right about the family thing like as you were saying that, I look at the relationship my brothers and I have today, there's no violence, it's incredible. Like, I mean, really it is truly incredible because man, we went to war with each other. I remember one time I literally slammed my brother through the drywall, like there at my grandmother's old house, there's an outline, it's funny in retrospect, but there's an outline of his f*** body in the wall, you know, and it's like, what is that? That is not okay, man. Right? Like, that's not good. That's not life, that's not love, that's not what it takes and requires. And I look at my teens in my twenties and I don't have children at this moment, and I will one day, I'm sure. And I'm like, I don't want them exposed to that. I don't want them to ever feel fear when they walk through the door. This needs to be a place of love and hope and companionship and growth and challenge. You know, let's see, life is not easy, we need to build you for that, right? But it should be supportive, it should be this place where you have the ability to explore freely, because when there's violence behind you or in front of you at all time, you're not free. Man, I felt like a prisoner as a kid, I felt like a prisoner in my twenties. And as I head towards 40 now, it's like, man, there's an amazing sense of peace, you use that word, and I think it's spot on.
I remember once I was on this ferry in Thailand, I was going between islands, going to a different Muay Thai camp, and I was just watching the sunset and I was just cry, like happy crying., I didn't even know that was a thing, dude and I was like, this is what the movies always talk about, you know? And I was like looking around, I was like making sure I wasn't being practical joked and I was like, this is f*** peace. And everybody deserves this, but man, you have got to put in the work. And we talk about this and this applies to women too. I know we've been talking about men a lot; both this applies to women. Like my girlfriend in high school would hit me constantly and I was like, this is normal. Right? And we believe that it is obviously, I would never let that happen today. I certainly hope she's done her healing work but I think about that and it's scary. Brad like people, men, let's stay on this for a moment, are terrified of the vulnerability, of the honesty, of the feeling of shame and guilt, which honestly, a lot of times doesn't even belong to them. And so, I made this decision for myself I was like, I'm gonna do this no matter what I'm doing this, it's gonna s*ck really bad, but I'm doing it. And so, I'm wondering like, what was the healing journey like for you? How did you get into vulnerability? How did you overcome shame and guilt? How did you step into being the man that you are today?
Brad: It's been a winding staircase, I would say. And when I started, I had no idea how far it would go, how many layers I would actually go through and I'm just gonna say step by step by step. You know, honestly, even in the last six months, like since you know, even since my book has been published and I'm telling these stories of my violence encounters and my healing, there's actually been things that have even I've encountered that have come up in the last six months, and I'm like, oh, there's another layer here, there's still more work to be done. And I would say that, you know, for anyone who's encountered any more than very mild trauma, I do think the journey in some sense just is going to have many layers, that's kind of inevitable. But on the other hand, I wouldn't want that to sound daunting to anyone who's kind of just starting on the healing journey because you don't need to commit to that on upfront, you don't need to say, oh, well, okay, this is gonna be a 20-year process like, no, just do whatever is in front of you right now. And there's been points in the last 20 years when I've also things have been stable, it tends to go in a number of months to a year or two. I'm kind of involved with some kind of work, I'm like, okay, this feels complete. I think things are stable now and I might not be doing healing work for a while, but then something else comes up and there's another layer of it.
So, that's kind of the in terms of the engagement with my work. And then I will say, in some sense, the reward actually becomes greater and greater in terms of what my life is like and what I experience and how I feel in the world and in my relationships, etcetera. You know, the healing work itself is often difficult, especially it was in the beginning and getting through that difficult part. I just always find there is such a reward just in terms of more peacefulness and richness available in my life, in my experience of being.
Michael: It's a really beautiful way to put it, like I resonate with that a lot. There are riches, like not literal in terms of like chess of gold, but like metaphorically and hypothetically, it's like they're rich, like it's f*** awesome. I try to explain this to people, I'm like, yeah, it s*cks, man. Come into my coaching program, it's gonna suck, you're gonna not like me probably most of the time ‘cuz I'm gonna point things out to you that you can't see and then you're gonna go do the work, you'll go deeper into therapy, you'll take care of your physical, mental, emotional self. And in three years you'll be like, man, that was worth it. Every penny, every moment, every tear, because it's so rich and fulfilling to have peace, to have self-love, to be okay with the reflection in the mirror, and it's like, most importantly to be able to be vulnerable. And that's the thing that I discovered, man, like I was a f*** brick wall, you're getting nothing out of me ever. And I realized that the higher that wall went, the wider it went and it became this impenetrable fortress where I'm inside imprisoned because of fear. What if I talked about what happened to me as a kid? What if I ever talked about like getting my heart broken? What if I talked about what it's like to be obese and be bullied? And I was like, man, what if I help somebody because I talked about it? And that's why I love your story, man, that's why I love what you're doing with this book, ‘cuz it's like, you gotta be crazy to do this and it's so necessary. And I wish more people would have the willingness to step into that and I want to go deeper into vulnerability here because I think I wanna really like pin into this for a moment. Men are terrified to be vulnerable and we live in a society now today in which even women will be combative with men who are vulnerable and call them weak and call them, I see it all the time, man, it's f*** crazy to me. And then you have that perpetrated plus you have this indoctrination of guys with other guys, don't be a bitch, don't be a pussy, we've been hearing that since we were children like that ain't new. And it's like, at what point though, we are beyond the point that we have to give men the space to be vulnerable. The question is, how do we do that?
Brad: Well, I think the biggest thing we can do is be vulnerable ourselves as examples and you know, that was a big intention of my book, to be transparent myself with my encounters how I felt, even that, yeah, I felt a lot of shame and that's in a sense, I think that's normal in a sense, to normalize that, to invite men to confront that in themselves to see that and to give them an example of that being shared to encourage them to share it.
Michael: And I agree. We do have to encourage men to share it. We have to encourage women to give men the space to share it. We have to allow people to know, like, here's the hard part about vulnerability is I think people are afraid they're gonna be judged. And I've come to find really a probably more so than anything that, like when I step into being vulnerable, like nobody judges me, and I think the reason why is because I'm offering truth that it's often like a doorway for people. I talk about the drugs, the alcohol, the sex, the debt, the repos, the violence, the abuse, the being obese, the addictions I talk about ‘cuz I'm like, man, I just believe in my heart I'm like, if this helps people, it's worth it ‘cause I already healed that sh*t. I'm good. We move through that. So how can I be vulnerable and show up even more every day? And I'm wondering if there's folks listening right now and they know that there's someone in their life that they need to work through this, they're trapped in the violence, they're stuck in the still cage, they're in this place where their partner goes, you never talk to me. Like, what are three things? Like what are three things that somebody can start doing right now? Like what becomes a formula to success here?
Brad: I think transparency with that person, similar to just the example of vulnerability and to really ask for that vulnerability and let them know just wanna take actually just a short detour here in a perspective that I have on vulnerability. You know, I used to, you talked about those brick walls and at one for through my adolescence into my early adulthood, I saw it too, as to be strong, it was to almost to be beyond emotion, to be just solid brick, emotionally, physically that was how to be a man. I take almost the opposite perspective on that now, that way of being is actually, I don't wanna be so judgmental as to say it's cowardly because that's what men are taught and in many senses that's a very valid kind of way of coping. And yet I would strongly say that is not what takes the most courage to be able to go, you know, to be strong and to face violence. What I see as being the most courageous, in some sense, the strongest embodiment of masculinity is to be willing to be vulnerable, to show our full selves, to share our full selves, to not hide, to not put up those walls.
And so, in terms of encouraging, just getting back to your question, creating the spaces for men to be able to even just start experimenting with being anything other than those walls that they have learned to be and to have the safe spaces with the safe people to share themselves. And you know, there are some things, certainly, ideally, we want to be that way in our closest relationships and at the same time, I actually generally encourage men to be cautious about starting kind of with their intimate relationships, if they're just kind of starting to explore their trauma and their healing. Very possibly, you know, dumping all of that in a sense, or just starting to open that with a partner who might not know how to respond to that, how to hold that, or be comfortable for it. Be ready for it. I encourage caution there and certainly, you know, with the right context and the right relationship, etcetera, yes, absolutely you want to be able to share all of those things with a partner. But I would generally recommend, you know, start with a listening professional of some type of therapist, coach, something like that who really is knows how to hold the space for that and can provide men with a safe space to experiment and learn to really share themselves and to be vulnerable.
Michael: Yeah, I agree with all of that unbelievably. And I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is like trying to rely on their partners, their families, and their friends to navigate this journey. Do not do that. Stop it. Right? If you're listening to this, stop it. Right now, this is a terrible decision. Go find a professional, your friends did not sign up for this. Your wife did not sign, your husband did not sign up for this, right? You need to go and get professional, that's why we are coaches, that's why we have speakers, that's why we have mental health professionals. And I'll say this, you know, one of the things, I'll add to this just or next to, I should say, what you've just laid out is I went to men's group therapy. You talk about f*** being uncomfortable, dude, that was so uncomfortable and I knew I had to do it, like, and that's why I did it because I was like, I only thing I know about men is we're either fighting or we're talking about people we had sex with. I have no other, no other relationship with men, this cannot be healthy. I'm 29, thank God. I don't know what hit me, but at 29 I was like, you need to go get men's group therapy, so that's what I f*** did and it was a game changer. And I think a group setting, which is the same reason we do our Monday group coaching’s with Think Unbroken; it creates bigger parameter of safety. And so, I'd encourage people to find that, find people like Brad, find people like me because it will change your life, I promise. If anything, it will just give you a sense of knowing you're not alone in this. Right. Man, this has been an incredible conversation, before I ask you my last question, please tell everyone where they can find you and learn more about the book?
Brad: Easiest place to go is my website, peacefulmanbook.com and you can contact me there, find out about men's groups there, link to order my book there. So that's the easiest place, peacefulmanbook.com
Michael: Amazing. And of course, we'll put the link in the show notes at thinkunbrokenpodcast.com. Just look up Brad on this episode at thinkunbrokenpodcast.com the links will be in there as well as in our newsletter. So, if you're not subscribed, make sure you do that. Brad, my friend, my last question for you, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Brad: In a word, it means resilience. And I think, I could also look at it in terms of layers. There's moments that we might say, okay, you know, I was broken in this moment, but there's a larger scope that we can see our lives in, which we could say is unbroken. And in a certain sense, you could look at our essential nature as humans, that there are life force, we might say there's an unbrokenness to it. No matter what happens to us, as long as we're still alive, there's some life force in us that is unbreakable.
Michael: Yes. I love that. I love that so much, and that's so incredibly true.
Brad, my friend. Thank you so much for being here.
Unbroken Nation. Thank you for listening.
Please check out the show on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcast. Leave us a review. Please get off the sidelines of life. Get in the game.
When you leave a review, when you hit that thumbs up, when you subscribe, you're helping other people find this information and it could change their life which means that you are part of this journey of ending generational trauma.
My friends, thank you so much.
And Until Next Time.
I'll See Ya.
Author, Somatics Teacher, Group facilitator, Coach
Brad has a mission to prevent male-on-male violence and end physical bullying. He authored the book, The Peaceful Man: Heal Within Yourself the Personal Effects and Historic Patterns of Male-on-Male Violence.
In his adolescence, Brad was a victim of physical bullying and became an occasional bully himself. Over the past two decades, he has done a lot of work to heal from the personal impacts of these encounters with violence.
Since 2014, he has been teaching and supporting other men on their healing journeys by facilitating groups and through individual mentoring sessions that include body-based healing experiences and contemplative practices. Brad has received extensive training and holds certifications in developmental coaching, somatic practices, group facilitation, and transformative change.
Brad believes that men healing from violence and finding peace within themselves are keys to enabling humanity and all of life on earth to flourish. He wrote The Peaceful Man in service of this vision and as a means of helping men to embark on journeys of healing.
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
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