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EP003: Being A Man (BAM) - The Courage to Feel

episodes show notes Apr 20, 2020
Welcome to the "Being A Man" series!
These are not “BE a man” directives. Instead, I present ideas on “living” and “being” I find useful in my own life.
I’m not telling you what to do to prove you’re a man. I’m sharing insight on “being,” the inward reflections of a conscious man who knows what he wants and how to get it.
Your authenticity is the tool and a heart-centered connection with yourself, with other gay men, and with your own chosen communities is the goal.
Use the parts that work for you and leave the rest.
“Being A Man” episodes are wrapped up in a cool three-letter acronym. “BAM.” So you can find the Being A Man episodes easily by looking for the BAM heading. 
And now today's show...
Today I talk about the importance of identifying and expressing our emotions; the usefulness of feeling our feelings and how it can lead every one of us to achieve what we desire by doing so.
I use the process of hooking-up, both to make it more interesting and to illustrate why it's important to know what your feelings are, so you can get the experience that you deserve.
I hope you’ll find something useful in today’s episode. Enjoy.

We talked about:
  • Addressing a lie that targets men [3:19]
  • Living in my genius [4:42]
  • Unpleasantness is useful [8:25]
  • My Values & Mission [9:24]
  • Tune into emotions. Feel empowered [12:49]
  • Conscious Leadership [16:15]
  • Love and fear are both useful emotions [16:42]
  • Hooking up using fear [21:59]
  • Hooking up using love [24:44]


Mike Gerle 0:00
Today's episode is the first installment of my being a man series, or BAM for short. This is an intimate one on one between me and you, the listener. I will present ideas on living or being as in being a man that I find useful in my own life. Being a man episodes are part Gaylor pontificating part, Big Gay brother, insight and part theoretical sandbox. These are not be a man episodes as in Let me tell you what to do Be a man. These are being a man episodes. I'm sharing insights on being the inward reflections of a conscious man who learns from their reflection, what he wants and how to get it. Use the parts at work and leave the rest. Your authenticity is the discriminating tool in the heart centered connection with yourself, with other gay men and with your chosen families is the goal. Being a man episodes are wrapped up in a cool three letter acronym: B A M, so you can easily find the Being A Man episodes by looking for the BAM heading on the episode entries.

On a very personal note, I would like to honor a friend of mine who passed from the COVID-19 virus, Gary Bowie. Gary was an activist, a brother to many men in the various clubs that he belonged to. He was a social service provider. And maybe most importantly, he was a husband to a man to Jeff Walker, and it was very apparent that they loved each other. Gary was an example of integrity and dignity and giving and boundaries and just a really great example of a really decent, fun, man. And I'm really sad that he's gone. With that being said, I hope you find something useful in the show. Enjoy the episode.

The moment you realized you were a gay man, you were forced onto the path of the other. So you know oppression inside now. the calling of otherness has led you on your own hero's journey. And that journey has prepared you for greatness. You were a man answering the cult of brotherhood, to conscious sex into heart centered connection. Welcome home brother.

Welcome brothers. Today's episode is a concept episode. I'm planning on doing these about once a month. These are ideas that I've cobbled together from just paying attention during my life, from doing my own personal work with them. therapists from everything I learned while writing my own memoirs, from belonging to different kinds of fraternal groups, from meditation and from yoga, from doing men's work, and especially the kind of men's work I've done in the Mankind Project, and other men's organizations. Today, I'm addressing a lie, a lie that especially targets men. The lie says that experiencing or having fear is bad, and having the vulnerability to express that fear is even worse. The lie tells us that having or expressing fear makes us less valuable, makes us inferior to other men, and that is just a frakking lie. It takes strength to speak your truth and courage to be open and vulnerable. The irony in this lie is that we are actually more powerful and effective when we embrace our emotional condition. So today, I will be speaking directly to you, dear listener about your feelings and how recognizing and respecting them will make you stronger, get you what you really want and lead you to peace and contentment. My experience doing men's work traditional therapy and meditation along with reading books like "Braving the Wilderness" by Brené Brown, "The King Within" by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, "Conscious Leadership" by Jim Dethmer and tons of others has taught me that naming the thing, the charge, the tension, the anxiety, that uncomfortable thing inside of me is key to living my bliss. Living in contentment, living my genius, and by living my genius. I'll probably be saying that a lot but and I want to be clear about what that is. Living my genius is when my actions line up with my values and my personal mission. So when I'm in my genius, I am most useful to the world and life is abundant. So that's why I want to live there. So having the emotional literacy to identify my emotions makes it possible for me to share my gifts with the world. It's a win win, I win, the world wins. Everybody is elevated because I'm using my emotional awareness to inform my decision making process, and therefore I make better decisions. I'm happier and me being happier makes everybody else happier. Simply put, I make better decisions, and life is better. So yeah, we're going to talk about feelings. I know. Not fun. I judge that you would rather not talk about feelings. I judge that you would have liked to hear about what I intended to talk about: Sex. How sex ties us together. How sex is attached to shame, about polyamory, about kinky sex and leather and sex with randoms and even vanilla sex. We were going to talk about all that stuff. We were going to talk about how we turn random hookups into life, long friendships and family. Yeah, I wanted to talk about all those things too. But that's just not relevant right now, because of the COVID-19 virus. It's all theory in a life that we used to live. That's because today is Wednesday, April 8 2020. And there is currently a pandemic blanketing our globe. The most loving thing we can do for ourselves. And the most loving thing we can do for our brothers and sisters is stay six feet away from each other. That means no sex. It's very disorienting and especially for me, who sex is in fact part of my life. It's very disorienting, and it causes me a lot of confusion. It's like science fiction, which I'm a huge fan of. But this is like, you know one of those overused science fiction plot, Dr. Jim drives his car out of town in the fog. And when he returns, no one's driving on the streets, and everybody's weirdly isolated in their homes, acting like it's normal. That's supposed to be a science fiction plot, not my life. And if it is my sci fi plot life, it should have holodeck privileges and access to a transporter pad, but it doesn't. You know, instead of the reality that I'm living in right now, I should be planning my retirement party from an awesome 23 year gig at West Hollywood City Hall. You know, I wish I was having a party to celebrate the launch of this podcast or adventures traveling and camping with my boyfriend. Laughing 'till I cry playing cards with my chosen family, working out, chasing boys, catching boys, hugging friends. But for now, for me and the three other people in my COVID coven, the four of us, none of that is possible. For nearly every person on the planet. None of that is possible. We are all in this together.

So feelings. I'm left here, in the unusual quiet of Los Angeles, quietly, silently feeling my feelings. And it's hard. You know, I've taught yoga, I meditate. I listen to books on spirituality, and I do my best to live mindfully. Still, sitting with fear, frustration, and confusion is unpleasant. I don't get a pass on the unpleasantness. But knowing that unpleasantness is useful helps me take the steps necessary to lean into the unpleasant Learn from it and come out on the other side. With a fuller life, a lifted sense of self, and wisdom I can draw upon. That ultimately transforms the unpleasantness into peace and even joy. It really does. For me, it's a four step process that includes my personal mission and my personal values. We will get into mission and values at another time, but I want to talk about them here real quickly, because they're all integrated in being able to make decisions about what I want. Your mission and values will help you make decisions about what you want. But first, I need to understand my feelings. Because my feelings, inform my values, my feelings, inform my mission. So these are the four steps that I go through. To help me feel my feelings first, I feel my feelings, identify with them. Secondly, I know what my personal mission is. Third, I know what my personal values are. And fourth, I use the information from my feelings to make choices aligned with my mission and my values. The important part here is knowing my personal mission knowing my personal values, if I'm twisting my life to fit into someone else's mission or values, then I will suffer. And I would say I was suffered needlessly. That's why we need to be in touch with our feelings while we create a mission and value based foundation for living. I've experienced mission and value based structures before and they were all very helpful and they do make me believe in this process. I've experienced them in religion, and boy scouts, in ballet, professional ballet 12 step groups, extreme sports like the AIDS lifecycle marathon, marathons, CrossFit, I've experienced it in the leather fetish community, and most recently through yoga, meditation and mindfulness communities. And when my values no longer lined up with the religion I was raised in, I had to let that go, I had to let go of a couple of those other things to that part of the process being aligned and integrity with my own very personal values. That doesn't mean that those organizations didn't bring value to my life, and that those organizations don't still bring value to many other people. It just means that my very personal values and mission that are true for me required that I release them with love, so that I can live my most authentic self.

So today with the help of Stephen Covey, who wrote "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", I know what my core values are. The big one is integrity. The other four are authenticity, contentment, compassion, and faith. Stephen Covey and the mind Mankind Project also helped me know my mission. And my simplified mission is: I create a world of love and connection by being present with my authentic self. So I have these guiding posts that I can bounce things off. This is my intellectual wall that I bounce things off and is informed by my emotions. And that's what happens. What I need to do is tune into my emotions, and then mind the gap. When there is a space between the way I'm living my life and the way I'm living my values. When my actions align with my values and mission, I feel empowered. I feel relevant. I feel useful. When I'm integrity with myself, my emotional barriers are removed. My fear based walls go down. I'm solid with who I am. And so I'm able to give and receive love. And when I'm in integrity with myself, my boundaries are in place. My loved base shields are up, yeah, shields that are made from love and commitment to my own self worth, when my love based shields are up, allowing me to know what is my stuff and what I'm responsible for. And what is another person or another organizations or another entities stuff that is being projected onto me. Their stuff hits the shield, and falls to the ground without me touching it. I can pick those pieces up if they're useful to me, but I don't need to absorb them. This all allows me to be in the present moment, and that's where all of life happens and I encourage you to be there right now. In this moment, wherever you are listening. Be in that moment. I'm able to be of service to my individual needs and then I'm able to be there for the needs of my family, and I'm able to be there for the needs in my community. When my actions do not align with my core values, I feel discomfort, irritation and confusion. That's why I want to be in touch with my feelings when I feel that discomfort. That's information that something wrong, maybe I need to change something, maybe one of my values just isn't one of the right values for me, and I need to be pursuing something else. And when I feel that discomfort, I usually try to fix it with distractions, like hopping on my phone, tapping around on there, getting my brain busy getting some dopamine hits off of what I can see on my phone, from having mindless sex, fromTV, from overexercising, from doing drugs, from food. These are all things that I use to distract myself and I think again, when that's happening, I need to look at my feelings and say, Why do I need so many distractions right now? Yeah, by tuning into my discomfort by identifying and giving that discomfort, a name, like sadness, grief, joy, shame, fear, love, anger, jealousy, I'm able to make better decisions. You know, Brené Brown talks about this a lot, owning our power by naming what's going on inside of us. My own experience aligns perfectly with her researched conclusions: To be happy, we need to name what's going on inside of us emotionally. So first, I acknowledge that I'm simply having a feeling that feelings are normal. That feelings contain information and different feelings affect my decision making process. That's what's really important. When I know what my feelings are, I can know how they're affecting my decision making process. That way. I know If I'm in a productive or destructive place for making a decision. I know with certainty that I am likely to make a productive decision when feeling one way, and I will make a destructive decision when feeling another way. You know the author of "The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A new paradigm for sustainable success" breaks down the decision making process into two sides, above the line and below the line. Basically fear and love. Jim Dethmer trained people in organizations so that they might know the difference between making decisions from fear below the line, and making decisions from love above the line. Simply put, love and fear are both normal and useful emotions. Love and fear are both normal and useful emotions. Placing judgment on our emotions of love and fear is just counterproductive. We just need to to know where we are above the line, or below the line. The value is in knowing that biologically, we make limited shut down decisions when we are in fear and we make expansive creative decisions when we're coming from love. So, basically, the consequence of making a decision in an agitated fearful state is that that outcome will likely suck. This doesn't mean I need to change my feeling. It just means I need to be aware of what my feeling is, then I may choose to not make a decision because I know that when I'm in fear or shame or anger, I will make a decision based on scarcity. I shut down and close it off. It is very likely that the decision will ultimately not serve Me and my goals. So I now have a choice. I can make choices from love from abundance, which means staying curious being open to new information. And that usually leads to receiving information support and higher productivity. It leads to getting what I really want better decisions are made, because I'm making them when I'm above the line in abundance, not when I'm a below the line in scarcity, when I'm above the line in love, not when I'm in below the line in fear. When that happens, I move towards my goals and feel the peace of living in integrity with my values.

So that was a lot of theory. So let's use some examples to illustrate this. And what better example than hooking up so let's talk about what we do when we get that urge to merge, and we want to go out and circulate with the guys. Let's talk about the difference between showing up in fear and showing up in love. First, we'll go with fear. We all know that showing up thirsty; I actually kind of hate that word because horny is not bad, but thirsty. Maybe, maybe, maybe it's not so awesome. And maybe that's why it's considered to be unattractive. And why is that? Well, it makes sense to me because thirsty, points to scarcity. I'm not going to get off, I need to have sex. In yoga, we call this grasping. It's the fifth Yama in the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga. And coming from fear makes us unconscious, of creativity and learning.

So when I'm in fear when I'm horny, and I want to go out and hook up and I'm doing that from a fearful space, I prepare for the hunt by projecting what I think will attract others. With little consideration from my own passions or my own truth. I dress in what I think they want to see. When I mixed with others, I speak about when I think they want to hear, I believe that my value is based on the social status of the person who gives me attention. I think in terms of manipulating the situation, or the guy I'm after, the word after is so grasping, and grasping. This is proven, it's a 5000 year old idea. Grasping causes us pain. Examples of this show up in soap operas, and the show Ugly Betty. And I just watched a hilarious episode of that last night. You know, and when people are not authentic and in fear drama happens, and this is very entertaining to watch on TV, but it's usually very painful and demoralizing to live through. So what if I came from love instead, and I'm still talking about going out, hooking up, but I'm this time I'm going to come from love. Conversely, I can show up conscious, empowered, strong and accepting of my place in the world and ready to make dreams come true for myself and the man or men I'll be hooking hooking up with. Most importantly, I understand that I mean, not get what I want. And if I don't get what I want, I'm still whole and powerful. Even if I don't get laid. In yoga, this attitude is called santosha. And that's in the Niyamas, the second limb of the eight limbs of yoga. It's about contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstance, optimism for self. So when I'm going out that way, I dress in a way that's authentic to my passions and my values. I'm open to hear what others have to say. I'm not defensive. I'm more curious than anything else. I'm compassionate. I'm content to be myself. I'm content to be alone. I'm willing to let people see all of me both physically and emotionally.

So I'm going to tell a story of the two times I went to this men's event and how one time I showed up in fear and the other time I showed up in love, and how that affected me getting laid. So, there's this game in silver event in the desert of Palm Springs, called "Hot n Dry". I think today this is its 30th anniversary this year. Some say it even inspired the first white party on the west coast. Anyway, it has that kind of feel. Except for that it's a sober AA convention. And it's all gay men. And in addition to all the standard elements of an AA convention, it has an intense pool scene with lots of naked skin and testosterone fueled interactions. One year I showed up in fear, grasping, and another year I showed up in love and openness. Guess which one brought me the most fulfilling sex. Showing up in fear looked like this: I was uncomfortable in many ways with the wardrobe choices I made. The recreation shirt and Fufu leather sandals I assumed would that would be tickets for mixing with the well to do influencers of the event only made me feel like I didn't belong there over 500 men at this event. But when a celebrity brought along his stunningly beautiful friend, who it turns out was not the boyfriend of the celebrity, I decided to pursue him. The truth is I was filled with fear and lack of self worth. And I made a bad decision. I convinced myself that sex with this beautiful man would wipe away my self doubts and somehow fix my core belief that I didn't belong and was unworthy of love. I made the decision to hook up with this guy. No matter what. So I manipulated ways to be near him. I ignored his personality and focused on how much other men were talking about his beauty. Two days of time tick by, and I finally managed to make out with him. That's what I got makeout in an elevator, it was consensual, but I could feel the resignation in his makeout kisses during that final encounter, and we did not fuck. So I left the weekend sexually frustrated and feeling worse about myself as a companion and as a sexual partner. And that's because I was I was grasping I was going to make this happen.

So this is what happened another year. This is probably three years later. This time, I showed up open and in love. So the first thing that was different is that I decided to actually volunteer for the event be of service, I sat on the committee that organized the event, and that made me feel useful and productive from the very start. Having felt the hollow empty feeling of chasing boys who were bored with being chased boys I truly cared little for and who cared a little for me in return, I decided that I would make hooking up a low priority and focus on the connections that the convention provides. So while working the registration table, I met nearly every man who came to the conference. And I was often alone in my room reprinting name tags and other collateral and that gave me time to reflect in the quiet and instead of being poolside every moment that I was not in a meeting, I had time to reflect and feel my initial internal feelings. And I felt good about my efforts in the lobby of that hotel that was decorate to fit the theme of the event, it's very nice. I chatted with friends and I enjoy the air conditioning because the truth is, I just hate the heat of the summer sun in the desert, the lobby with its theme seating, you know, that was a perfect place for me to hang out and enjoy time with my friends. Friends I really had no idea to hook up with. And it was in a circle of those friends that I started chatting with a guy whose story I'd heard before in meetings and around and I respected. You know, I wanted to know more about him. We talked and we talked and I asked questions and found out about who he was, you know, I always thought he was extremely attractive, you know, but not the number one hottest, most, you know, staticy guy at the event. Now we ended up in my room and having amazing sex, you know, but prior to the sex, we talked about the implications of playing together. We talked about how we were happily single and we both were happily single and this would just be fun and who knows what would happen when we got back in LA? We were just both very honest with each other. And, you know, it was a great time because I had made the conscious decision to be curious to listen and to be honest about what I wanted. And in the end, I got everything I wanted. And without going through all the steps of the other encounter, it happened again with another guy more awesome sex. Another connection with another great guy. And yeah, that happened the same day. So when I finally made my way to the pool, it was later in the day the sun was you know, lower in the sky, but it was still Palm Spring Summer hot out so I found a quarter of the pool in the shallow end and I just sunk down in the water up into my neck and I thought, you know, instead of wrestling with the other boys on the public Toys, I just decided to kick back and enjoy the frivolity, enjoy not getting involved. And I was patting myself on the back for not getting too involved that year, when the two guys that I had hooked up with individually, I saw them talking to each other and giggling and laughing and then they kind of turned and they saw me and our eyes all locked, and then they came over and we all laughed and giggled, and it was a real connected brotherly moment. And I left that weekend, feeling very good about myself and truly connected to them and many other people that weekend.

So, we need to feel our feelings. Understand that our feelings do not make us good people or bad people. Our feelings are pleasant and unpleasant. They're not good or bad. They're based in fear and love. We need both to survive as human beings. That's why we can't judge them. That's what they're not good and bad. Fear and love are both very useful for staying alive and making good decisions on the planet. We just need to know that you know, when we're coming from fear, we're more likely to make decisions that ultimately do not serve us. When we are coming from fear, we are more likely to make decisions that ultimately do not serve us. It's usually a good time for self care, not a time to shut down and take on the social narrative that we are diminished lesser than or not men. When we are coming from love, we are more likely to make decisions that lead us to achieve the purpose of our higher selves. Decisions that leads to joy and to peace. Let me leave you with three things. A conscious man knows when he is in fear. A courageous man has a vulnerability to express that fear. And a wise man chooses to make decisions or not make decisions based on the data he has received from his emotions. So be conscious brothers. Be authentic, and get what you really want. Until next time, this is Mike Gerle on the GerleMen podcast. Thank you.

Thanks for listening to the show my friend. Now stay connected by subscribing to GerleMen podcast and sharing with your friends on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or anywhere else podcasts can be found. Visit the web page at Sign up for the newsletter and find more details about each episode. Let's make this a conversation because I'd really like to hear from you. Join us on Facebook @GerleMen, submit your questions suggest topics or just chat with your brothers. Want to add your own two cents? Use the voice memo feature on your smartphone, ask a question or say anything. We just might play it on the podcast, email the file to [email protected] Until next time



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