by Owen Marcus, EVRYMAN Co-Founder & Director of Education
When I started the Sandpoint Men’s group in 2005, I remember sitting in my living room asking a man in our group, “What is at risk?” That question came from asking myself to dive into my fear of taking action.
I would go into the freeze response (being hyped up but not acting). I would be that deer in the headlights. I knew I needed to act but could not. Sure, at the last moment, I would act, or to be more accurate, circumstances forced me to act. Sometimes it was a business opportunity I kept thinking about. Or a relationship in which I was half in and half out.
Slowing down and turning to face my fears was initially very intense. Yet, when I would allow myself to feel my emotions, and to act while feeling them, which was even more challenging, I would always come out the other side a little more free. Even if I failed at what I was hoping to accomplish, I was more free.
If you are like me, your thoughts run in circles around what you do not want to face. Having only your mind for support, it can be difficult at first to escape the cycle of over-analysis.
When asked what is at risk, we are forced to be honest about the consequences of action or inaction. What are your opportunity costs — what opportunities will you miss with, or without, acting?
Recently as I was teaching a group of therapists, they asked how to compel a man to seek help. My answer was to have him feel what would happen if he did not receive help. Many men will “take the risk” of seeking help, after feeling into the potential impact on their kids for example. He does not want to end up being the father he had.
Ask yourself these questions (or journal about them) as you stay present to your somatic and emotional experience.
What is at risk if…
I do not change?
I do change?
What are my opportunity costs?
What will I miss out on?
What will not happen?
What are my sunk costs (what have I invested that I might lose)?
Avoid the “top-down” approach of thinking your way through the process. As you ask yourself these questions, feel your body and emotions respond. Then, feel what is behind your reaction, your standard survival response. What is your vulnerable response?
Check in with the issue, opportunity, or challenge in your life that could use a deep dive. Pick one of the questions — i.e., what is at risk if I do not change? — and journal about it. Then speak to the emotion you feel as you experience what you are writing about.
As you read this, what comes up for you around addressing or not addressing a risk or opportunity in your life head-on?