Podcast: How Toxic Masculinity Also Hurts Men
The phrase “sacred masculine” can evoke images of patriarchal religiosity. But it has a different meaning for today’s guest. For Miguel Dean, the sacred masculine is an ideal, embodied by a man who accepts all of his emotions, understands the connectedness of humanity, and is devoted to helping others.
Join us as Miguel explains how the sacred masculine is increasingly being recognized as a new model of masculinity to replace the old ideas of what it meant to be a man. This new man embraces all of his humanity and recognizes that part of this is the courage to feel, express and honor the full spectrum of human emotions. He knows that everything in life is connected and that his wholeness is catalyzed by his commitment to service.
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Guest information for ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Podcast Episode
Miguel Dean walks the path of the sacred masculine as seer, catalyst and holder of sacred space. He is also a writer and author of his latest book Bring Him Home – A Twin Flame Love Story.
He was born in 1968 in Colchester, England where he had a challenging start to life. As a result of his early difficulties, as a young man, he spiraled down into a life of violence, petty crime, addiction and homelessness in which he spent seven years living on the road as a New Age Traveler. It was the love of his newborn son that inspired and motivated him to begin to take responsibility and make changes. This was the beginning of a rich, varied, and at times extremely challenging journey to return home to physical health and inner union.
Miguel’s writing and other offerings are all in alignment with his passion to serve and ease the transition, from what no longer serves humanity and the planet, into a more beautiful world for our children and the generations to come. www.MiguelDean.net
About The Psych Central Podcast Host
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.
Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Episode
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the fields of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.
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Gabe Howard: Welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have Miguel Dean. He is the author of Bring Him Home: A Twin Flame Love Story. He also talks a lot about the sacred masculine, which he is going to define for us right now. Miguel, welcome to the show.
Miguel Dean: Hello. Hello, Gabe. Thank you very much for the invitation to be here. Yeah. Great.
Gabe Howard: We really appreciate having you here. Now the sacred masculine. Can you explain that to the audience, please?
Miguel Dean: Yes. So the sacred masculine is a new type of masculine, which appears to be emerging, awakening or perhaps even remembering itself on the planet today. It’s essentially a man that has realized that in order to be the best that he can be to reach his full potential, he needs to balance the masculine and feminine aspects of himself. It’s also a man who realizes that everything in the world is connected. And then he follows the, you know, a lot of the sort of spiritual principles, really that everything is connected and that, as I do to another, I do to myself. Humanity is one body, one creature, if you like. And we are all different little cells of that one body of humanity. The other thing which is probably important to say about the sacred masculine is that he is very committed to service. He understands that because there is this connection and that everything is connected, his role isn’t just to take care of his immediate blood family, if you like, the traditional family. When he is at his best, he is also seeking constantly to serve the whole of humanity. And how can I contribute rather than what can I get out of it?
Gabe Howard: I like everything that you said there, and I agree, I do think that we’re all interconnected. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. You know, I come from a long line of blue collar, stereotypical man’s man. You know, work with your hands. Don’t go to the doctor. Never say, I love you. Never cry in public. Kind of men. They’re good men in case they’re listening to the show. But I can kind of hear this rumbling from my childhood of people listening to you and saying, well, no, that’s completely wrong. That’s not what a man is. He’s describing a woman. What do you say to that?
Miguel Dean: My understanding is that, you know, we have these gender stereotypes and, you know, this is what it means to be a man and this is what it is to be a woman. But we both have masculine and feminine qualities to ourselves. So although if you’re a woman, there are still gonna be more masculine qualities, which they’re often, you know, things like pushing forwards and proactive and speaking up and persevering in that kind of effort. So all of that stuff, whereas the feminine qualities are more sort of receptive and they may be something, you know, more of the listening rather than the speaking, more of the kind of like holding space and just being rather than doing. Now we live in a very patriarchal-focused society. So there’s been an overemphasis on doing and on those masculine qualities. But regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, in order to be the best version of yourself, we encompass both of those aspects. There is a time to push forward. There is a time to be tough, to be more in your masculine. And there is a time, if you think of a man with his newborn baby, be soft and he will be gentle and he will be quiet, and he will embody more of those feminine qualities. So it’s not that you know one is right or one is wrong. But it’s, you know, how do we move forwards by just being able to find a balance within both of those? Because it seems to me that, you know, largely the evidence that what we perceive, the stereotypes around being a man at the moment have been largely responsible for the big decline that we have in men’s mental health. For the big increase that we have in male suicides. I’m sure that there’s more that we can do better. Is this really the embodiment of the best version of masculinity? And for me, through my own experience and, you know, my own journey, the answer is no. And I don’t expect everybody to agree with that. I always like to emphasize that I’m just sharing my truth.
Gabe Howard: I like that a lot, Miguel. Now, in order to be fair, is there a sacred feminine counterpart to go with the sacred masculine?
Miguel Dean: Yes. Yes. You know, similarly, the sacred feminine is a woman who is striving and working towards finding the balance of her own masculine and her own feminine qualities within herself. So, you know, when we have a man that is living from this place that is being this, and a woman that is being this, then we have really strong and powerful partnerships. So instead of two halves, a man and a woman making up a whole, we have a woman that is balanced and a man that is balanced. That means, when they come together, the whole is more than the sum of the parts because they’re not trying to complete each other. They are complete unto themselves. When they come together, there is an extra energy. And those sort of couples you will often find contribute a massive amount to society and to humanity.
Gabe Howard: I couldn’t agree with you more, and for whatever reason, we’ve sort of genderized emotions and feelings. Going along with that idea of genderizing emotions and feelings, which you can probably do a whole podcast on why that’s probably obnoxious. But let’s go with these stereotypical terms. It seems to be what you’re saying is, listen, we all have all of these emotions living inside us and we need to step outside of our comfort zones and acknowledge that if we can be full-fledged people and accept and realize and utilize all of our emotions, we’ll achieve more.
Miguel Dean: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay. Yeah. You’re hitting the right notes. Definitely. We have these sayings that we heard that are prevalent in society. You know, big boys don’t cry. Little girls should be nice. And actually, it doesn’t seem that that’s terribly helpful in the long run, because if we’ve been given this full range of emotions, then the human being is an incredible miracle creation, really. And it doesn’t seem right to me that that men were given the emotions of sadness and tears and feeling soft and feeling broken or feeling disempowered or whatever by mistake. We were given these emotions because the emotions are kind of like they’re like they’re part of our inner guidance system that steers us towards or away from different actions and behaviors. You know, if we’re feeling lots of negative emotions it’s usually a cue to look inside and say, okay, so what am I doing or what am I living or what am I creating that’s causing these negative feelings? So perhaps I need to shift the direction, you know, that I am headed and move to see if those emotions get less or whether they get more. You know that the emotions are really important. And so when men suppress, or have been taught to suppress, their emotions and shamed into, you know, not showing their vulnerability or their weakness or their fragility or their depression or whatever, then all those emotions get trapped in the body and invariably seem to lead to dysfunctional behaviors. To addictions, you know, attempts to anesthetize and numb the unpleasant feelings, because that was certainly what I did. You know, that this is part of my story that I’m talking about now, but it just resulted in depression and, you know, severe lots of physical issues that I have because all that energy was trapped in my body.
Gabe Howard: Let’s talk about your personal journey for a moment. You describe having a life of violence and petty crime, addiction, and homelessness. You said that you spent seven years living on the road as a new age traveler. What was that like for you and how did it lead you to the discovery of the sacred masculine?
Miguel Dean: Mm hmm. Good question. Good question. What it was like was, well, looking back now, it was quite a blur because it was living kind of outside of society, really. And I now realize that it was a kind of knee jerk response to what happened to me in my childhood in that I’d lost my mom when I was a baby. My step mom, let’s say she wasn’t very loving. And so it was a very fearful. You know, my childhood, I was kind of in fight and flight, really. And my father was a typical absent male who was out at work at all hours of the day. So I left home with very low self-esteem and carrying this trauma from my childhood of losing my mother because I felt I had such low self-worth. I didn’t feel I was worth anything. I didn’t think that I was lovable or that I would amount to anything. I unconsciously chose a lifestyle that would reflect that back to me. And that was the life of living on the road where drug addiction and violence and fights and, you know, petty crime and so on. And begging on the streets sometimes was just a way of life, really. You know, I was sort of numbing myself. I was self-medicating with alcohol and illegal drugs most of the time. What then happened really was that I met a woman, as is often a turning point in men’s stories, but I met this beautiful woman and she fell pregnant. And my first son was born while I was still living on the road. And I hoped that, you know, becoming a father would change everything.
Miguel Dean: It would be a magic wand, because I had certainly reached the point where the drugs weren’t really working anymore. They weren’t numbing me and they weren’t helping me escape from all these kind of trapped emotions and this depression that was just sort of building energy inside me. But unfortunately, becoming a father wasn’t the magic wand that I’d hoped for. And in fact, it actually turned the heat up even more because it made me realize how I felt, I still felt as if I was a boy inside a man’s body. And, you know, I didn’t feel in my power and I felt really lost. And one day I just woke up, Gabe, and I thought to myself, you know, perhaps I should just leave. You know, my son was about 18 months old and I thought perhaps he would be better off without me because I was moody. I was angry, I was needy, I was controlling, and perhaps my son would be better off without me. But in a conversation that I’d had with his mother, I remember saying that I’d try everything, even going to counseling. So one day that day that I woke up with that feeling of perhaps I should go, there was another voice that came into my head and said, there’s one more thing to try. You said that you would try counseling. So I got in my van and I drove into town and, you know, and I went from one organization to another and eventually bumped into somebody that gave me the number of a private counselor.
Gabe Howard: I want to back you up for just a second there, because this is a question that I ask pretty much all men who agree to try counseling.
Miguel Dean: Yeah?
Gabe Howard: What did you think? Were you just doing it to make her happy? Did you think that it would be productive? Did you think that it was stupid before you ever walked into a therapist’s office? What was going through your mind?
Miguel Dean: Yeah, it was kind of desperation. What was going through my mind was if I leave, walk away from my son and my partner and I haven’t tried this, I will always wonder. So I really, you know, I need to do this. I need to sort of tick this off. But I remember thinking very clearly. I just don’t get how having a chat to somebody speaking to somebody is really gonna make, you know, make the difference. I wasn’t holding out that this was gonna help. I just didn’t get it at all. But actually what happened was it was a male counselor and it was just a couple of sessions and all these lightbulbs started going on for me. And I realized for the first time, I was about 28 years old then, that the way I’d been living and everything that I’d been feeling was connected to the wounds that I was carrying from my childhood. And it may seem obvious now, but back then, I, you know, I didn’t have a clue that was where the roots of most of our issues that, you know, in adulthood arise from.
Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after these messages.
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Gabe Howard: We’re back learning about sacred masculinity with Miguel Dean. So here you are, you’re looking for a therapist, you’re looking for a counselor and you’ve found one. Let’s pick up the story from there.
Miguel Dean: Yeah, I’ve found this counselor. It was really amazing because it’s such a simple process. I mean, basically, he listens to me. You know, he held space and asked me a few obviously quite powerful questions. I had never experienced that before. I’ve never experienced being really listened to by somebody, you know, with no other agenda apart from wanting the best for you. It was incredibly powerful. And I would like to say that again, that everything got better from there, it was really easy. It did get better. But there was the healing crisis that I needed to go through first, because this was the first time I began speaking about what had happened to me as a child, that all the emotions, you know, came to the surface. And as the emotions came to the surface, it was like it was a stopper taken out of a bottle. You know, a purging, a purification began to take place as I began to express the emotions that was mirrored through my body, releasing and expressing all that toxic emotional energy that had been trapped in my body.
Gabe Howard: And how long from those moments before you started discovering and hashing out the sacred masculine?
Miguel Dean: Yes, there was another book that was written about that, but basically it was that it was a long journey. To begin with, I started working with adults with learning difficulties. I’ve been living on the road. So I realized, you know, I need to move into a house. I need somewhere safe to do this work. And I wanted something that fulfills me. And the counselor gave me this little glimmer of hope that I said to myself, maybe I can do something to help people. Maybe I could be a counselor. Maybe I could do what he’s done for me. So I actually went back to college and I did a counseling qualification. I got married to my partner because I wanted to show commitment and that I wasn’t just going to walk away. And I began working with adults with learning difficulties, and that progressed on to working with homeless youth. And I guess some of the seeds of the sacred masculine were really sown here because I began to realize that I couldn’t help and heal myself because it was, you know, an ongoing process of healing the trauma that I’ve been carrying. I couldn’t do it in isolation. And what I found was the more that I helped others and the more that I was there for other people and the more I got involved in service, the more that helped me, the more that brought me back into and along alignment with who I really was, which was a kind, compassionate, albeit wounded person. But, you know, that wanted to help, but also saw that you couldn’t help others fully unless you really sorted himself out and began to be operating from his own optimum.
Gabe Howard: You mentioned working with young men and boys, and I know that there’s a lot of mixed messages about masculinity, you know, toxic masculinity. You know, like you said earlier, boys don’t cry. How do we introduce sacred masculinity to boys and young men to overshadow all of the messages that they’re already getting from, you know, this is my word, stereotypical masculinity?
Miguel Dean: Yeah, well, the way that I do that, Gabe, is that I live it. I just am who I am. And so young people, you know, they pick up. They learn from what you do, not what you say. So I just live that. Whoever I’m working with, young people, I always share. It’s never I’m the teacher and you’re the student, and I don’t tell you anything about myself. I share my own experiences. I share times when if I’m struggling a bit sometimes. And so I think, you know, the best way to for us to pass that onto the young man is through absorption, really. By just living that, you know, as best we can and modeling it in the way that we live our lives, in the way that we interact with everybody. It is quite easy to feel a bit overwhelmed and a bit defeated. You know, when we think because like the stereotypical machinery, if you like, is so huge, you know about what it is to be a boy or what it is to be a man. But, you know, every great journey begins with a single step.
Miguel Dean: And I think there is an increasing awareness. The model of masculinity that is prevalent in our Western society is that there is room for improvement. So people will start looking for alternatives. And, you know, even you don’t need to be a spiritual person. But if you just come from a kind of purely scientific perspective of what I do here in the UK does affect other people over the other side of the world. You know, the way that I shop, choices that I make, the food that I eat, the entertainment that I consume, or, you know, all these different things, we are all interconnected, even just from a physical understanding. You know, I’d like to think that it will move more into the education system and it will move into the media. You know, that’s why we’re having this conversation, I guess. It will happen slowly and it will happen surely because everything changes. You know, we’ve had different ideas of what it is to be a man and so on. And this model of masculinity has had its time. It’s time for something new.
Gabe Howard: Miguel, do you think it’s important that men cry? And a follow up question to that is do you think it’s important that men cry in front of other men?
Miguel Dean: I think, you know, we mentioned this briefly at the beginning of our conversation that we were given this full spectrum of emotions for a reason, and there is scientific evidence that shows, you know, that when we cry, we release stress hormones, chemicals and so on. There is a physiological benefit to crying. People talk about, you know, I felt better after I had a damn good cry. I believe it’s good to men for men to cry from that perspective because it releases the pressure and it releases stress that’s inside. Whether they cry in front of other men, I think there’s no I think that’s probably to be encouraged is okay that there’s nothing wrong with that. You know, in order to sort of help shift the tide of it’s not okay to cry. You know, the more men that see other men crying, it’s like, oh, it’s okay. You know, you’ve kind of given permission rather than we just cry secretly. Which leads me really to the key points in this question is because there’s so much about shame. It’s not helpful to cry if we cry and then we beat ourselves up with a load of shame and tell ourselves what a wimp we are or, you know, how unmanly we are afterwards, because that’s counterproductive. So, you know, I feel that, yeah, in a way, it’s a good idea for men to to see other men crying and without the shame. And just from that place of, you know, I just felt broken or just something devastating has happened or there’s just all this buildup of stress or pressure and it’s okay. It’s a crazy idea, really, that that we’ve come to. It just seems really odd to me that it’s okay for girls to cry, but it’s not okay for boys to cry. But we have the same anatomy as we’ve both got the same tear ducts and we have tears and we both have eyes. So, you know, the same chemical response happens when when men cry and when women cry.
Gabe Howard: I agree with you. It’s sort of a crazy conversation to have where you say, hey, is it okay to cry even though you’re perfectly capable of it? And is it okay to cry in front of other people? Even though we see crying all the time, it’s well-represented in pop culture. We’ve all seen our loved ones and families cry and then we’re talking about whether or not it’s a good idea. It would sort of be like asking, hey, is it okay to sweat in front of people?
Miguel Dean: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: Like you said, it’s just a biological response. I love what you’re saying about masculinity because I think that it is time to evolve. Behaving how you’re supposed to behave means that you’re not making choices that are true to you. You’re making choices that are true for society or for others. And there’s like a controlling element in that. Right? I want to do X, but society told me I wasn’t allowed, so therefore I won’t. It’s almost faceless, right? Society isn’t an individual. Like everybody got together and voted that you’re not allowed to do this. And I can see where that causes a lot of conflict inside people. And of course, that conflict almost never comes out in any mentally healthy way. I love everything that we’ve discussed. Let’s talk about the book momentarily. Where do people find it? What’s it about? And how do people buy it?
Miguel Dean: Thank you, Gabe. Yes, the book is called Bring Him Home: A Twin Flame Love Story. It’s available on my web site, which is MiguelDean.net. It’s available from Sacred Stories Publishing, from their web site, available on Amazon and book retailers. You will find it. It’s a true story. It is my story of how a beautiful and enchanting woman gave me the courage to make the journey from my head back to my heart. You know, to get in touch with some of the wounds and some of the pain that I was still carrying from my earlier years. It’s a story about the rise of sacred masculinity. One of the key aspects of the sacred masculine is a deep reverence for woman and how to have a relationship that is different from the Hollywood idea of what relationships should be. My experience and my belief is that relationships can be a really powerful way of bringing to the surface that which needs to be healed within us. A conscious relationship or a conscious twin flame relationship gives us the opportunity to do the work to find the union of the masculine and feminine within ourselves so that we can really become operating from our very best potential. So that’s what the book is all about. It’s a beautiful love story and you know, there are deeper levels to it as well.
Gabe Howard: Miguel, I really appreciate you being on the show. And remember, everybody, his book is called Bring Him Home: A Twin Flame Love Story. There’s some things that you can do for me and I would consider it a personal favor. Wherever you downloaded this podcast, they probably have a ranking system. Give us as many stars, hearts, bullets or whatever that you can. Let people know that you love the podcast and use your words. Tell people why. It really helps with our rankings. Please share us on social media, e-mail us to your friends and family, do whatever you can to scream us from the rooftops so that people know that we exist. If you have any questions or show ideas, you can always e-mail me at show@PsychCentral.com. I’d love to hear about what you would love to hear about. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counselling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting our sponsor, BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll see everybody next week.
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Central Podcast, T. (2019). Podcast: How Toxic Masculinity Also Hurts Men. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/podcast-how-toxic-masculinity-also-hurts-men/