ERP 359: The Path To Integration – A New Model Of Masculinity — An Interview With Traver Boehm

By Posted in - Podcast February 14th, 2023 0 Comments

The definition of masculinity has been undergoing a significant change in recent years, with a growing realization that the traditional model of masculinity has been harmful and limiting for men.

In this episode, we delve into the uncharted territories of masculinity and the challenges men face in today’s society. Our guest, Trevor, shares his journey and the lessons he has learned along the way, including his latest project, “Behind the Masks of Men,” a three-month program aimed at helping men delve deeper into the topics of anger, relationships, sex, and desire.

Join us as we explore the false initiation of sexuality through porn and the importance of tackling these taboo topics for the betterment of not just men, but society as a whole. 

Traver Boehm is the author of the books Today I Rise and Man UNcivilized. He’s a two time TEDx speaker, men’s coach, and the founder of the UNcivilized Men’s Movement. He’s helped men all over the world to become UNcivilized as they wake up to meditate, train their bodies, and blaze their own path by uniquely blending both the primal and the divine within them.

He is dedicated to doing his part to help end the suffering in men, and the suffering caused by men, by guiding them through their own journey into an actualized version of masculinity.

In this Episode

2:46 Traver Boehm’s personal journey of self-discovery and growth after a series of events in his life that led to a destabilization of his sense of identity and purpose.

12:12 A new paradigm of masculinity proposed amidst epidemic of pain in the male population.

18:23 Breaking down gender stereotypes: The negative impact of narrow masculine emotional expression.

20:17 Understanding masculinity in today’s society.

26:08 Exploring the importance of balancing masculine and emotional intelligence in relationships.

32:37 Integrating masculine and feminine: Moving beyond limiting identities.

38:26 The importance of integrity in relationships and life.

41:31 Understanding the pain of “nice guys” and practical solutions.

47:53 The power of embracing the primal and divine within.

53:46 Behind the masks of men: A three-month program to explore emotional and sexual issues.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Take action to process your old traumas because avoiding them will not make them disappear. Seek therapy or counseling, or engage in activities that help you confront and work through your traumas.
  • Practice honesty with yourself by identifying and acknowledging your true feelings and beliefs. Reflect on areas in which you may be deceiving yourself, and work to correct these behaviors.
  • Use the question, “What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and there were no more women?” as a tool to identify which aspects of your life you genuinely value and which are motivated by external factors such as impressing others. 
  • Seek out and build relationships with healthy, conscious men who can support you in understanding and meeting your needs on a deeper level. 
  • Make a conscious effort to acknowledge and honor the full range of emotions you experience, both positive and negative. Practice self-compassion and seek support when needed.
  • Work to balance your strength and love in your relationships with others. Strive to exhibit strength and power without resorting to tyranny, and to express love and compassion without becoming a victim.

Mentioned

Behind the Masks of Men

Man UNcivilized (*Amazon Affiliate link) (book)

Today I Rise: How To Overcome The Gut-Wrenching Pain Of Your Breakup Or Divorce & Reclaim Your Life (*Amazon Affiliate link) (book)

Relationship Map To Happy, Lasting Love

Connect with Traver Boehm

Websites: manuncivilized.com

Podcast: The UNcivilized Podcast with Traver Boehm

Instagram: instagram.com/traverboehm/?hl=en

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship 

Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins 

Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins 

Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 

Website: drjessicahiggins.com  

Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Traver, thank you for joining us today.

Thank you so much for having me. 

Yeah. As I mentioned, you come highly recommended. I’m always in favor of really supporting the conversation of men’s development, especially for people and men that are speaking into the transformational journey and have done a level of work themselves. I know that you are a testament to that and do a lot to teach. For people who maybe don’t know you, I’m sure we could talk the entire episode about what got you into this arena. But what would you like people to know about where you’re coming from, as you came into this?

Yeah, for sure. Jessica, one of the points I like to make early and often, especially when talking to men, then we’ll speak to everybody here. But speaking specifically to men is, my journey started through loss; my journey started through pain. So many men don’t get to a point of wanting to change, or willingness to change, or willingness to even open up to new ideas. Until, and I’ll raise my hand as like the classic example, till I woke up face down on rock bottom and went, “Oh, okay, this is new. My charmed life is now over. Something is happening to me. Something bigger than me is going on.” 

So my story came of, I lived in Santa Barbara, California, as you know well, married to the woman of my dreams, first kid on the way, brilliant business that I didn’t have to work too hard, and very expressive life. And I lost it all in a very short period of time. My ex-wife had a miscarriage, which led to a divorce, which led to a business partnership divorce for a separate reason, as I said, in a very short period. That was wildly destabilizing, as it would be for anybody. It showed a mirror up to me. Then, as opposed to going, “Wow, all this stuff happened. I can’t believe it. Man, what bad luck!” I looked in the mirror and said, “There’s a central player in this story. I’m the central player. Okay, let’s take a look at all the things that I’ve never looked at before in my past. Let’s take a look at how I was an active participant in my life “falling apart.” Then how do I now reorganize myself? What did I not know that I need to know? What did I not do that I now need to do? What did I not have the understanding of or a comprehension of?” Because I was like your normal typical American guy. 

Let me look at my patterns. Well, I drank a lot in my marriage. I smoked a lot of pot in my marriage. I looked at a lot of porn in my marriage. I over-exercised, I overworked. If you asked me at any point in my marriage, how are you doing, which my lovely ex-wife did, I would tell her straight up, I’d be honest, I’m fine. I’m clearly fine. We make money, I have a 7% body fat, I’m a really good deadlifter, I can write well, I’m educated. Like, what could be the problem here? You and I seem to have an issue, but that seems to be more your issue than mine. So as soon as you figure that stuff out, everything will be great. I hope people find the sarcasm and the gist of what I was just saying, because I wasn’t within a country mile of being okay. But no one had told me that, specifically as a man, what had happened to me in my past would be informative of my behavior and my future. No one had told me that if I don’t work on old traumas, old wounds, old, etc., they don’t go anywhere. I was your classic American dude, which is like, if I ignore this long enough, it has to go away. Okay, cool. Let’s get some really good coping mechanisms for ignoring things, and life’s just going to be dandy.

Not an unfamiliar narrative. I know you’re saying I feel as though I’m making fun of it a little bit with the sarcasm, however, this is a very common strategy and approach.

100%. I’ll even add that the day my ex-wife left, I quit drinking, I got into therapy, I gave up looking at porn, I gave up smoking pot. Something hit me that went, “Huh, you’re about to go through a process. You can ignore the process and end up right back here where we are a couple years from now, or we can actually go through the process.” What was such a curiosity, Jessica, was how many guys came into my life and said, “Hey man, let’s go out drinkin’! Hey, you know what you need to do? You need to get laid this weekend. Hey, let’s roll a joint and just forget this whole thing.” So it wasn’t only an uncommon narrative, the narrative was supported. People told me I was crazy when I quit drinking. People made fun of me for quitting drinking. People shamed me for quitting drinking. I wasn’t an alcoholic. It’s like, if you’re going to quit drinking, that means we all have to quit drinking. It’s like, I didn’t say that. I just actually made a personal choice. But please, keep projecting and carry on. 

So I know this is a long-winded answer to a short question. But I started to have to ask two questions in that moment, or in that timeframe. One: who am I? Which is a big, lifelong, existential, spiritual question, which I don’t know if any of us ever get to the bottom of. But question two was: who am I as a man? That was the one that I went, “Okay, this is not going to be something that I navel gaze through. This is something I’m gonna have to have concrete answers for, and be able to put pieces in place for. So that when I do rebuild my life, that is the foundation upon which I build it on.” This is who I am as a man.

It sounds as though that’s not only an inner, like you’re saying, navel gazing, it’s so funny. But it’s an outward expression around the pieces of a structure that I’m scaffolding for who am I as a person and who am I as a man.

Yes, absolutely. Masculinity is a curious thing, there’s doing involved in it. There’s a lot of doing. Real men X, we say this a lot in culture. Real men Y, real men ABC, etc. If you don’t do this, you’re not a real man. It has to be earned. I remember the first time I heard Esther Perel on a stage, say “There’s no word for women for emasculate. There’s also no word for loser.” Yes, there’s words for women that don’t exist for us, for men. But I remember when she said that, one, I got chills. I secondly went, there’s something about this masculinity thing, this being a man thing, that has some doing in it. That if we don’t do, we feel off-track, or something doesn’t feel right. 

So then I dove headfirst into study. I went and read a book called To Be a Man by Robert Masters, on a flight. Then look the guy up and was like, “Oh, he’s coming to Santa Barbara to do a workshop, of all places.” I went to this workshop, Jessica. So what I’m thinking is, lecture hall, take a bunch of notes. I show up to a yurt on a property in Santa Barbara. There’s six other guys. It’s a five-day ordeal, and within an hour, someone’s on the ground screaming, crying, punching a pillow, and I have my eyes on the exit as fast as I can possibly get there. I didn’t run out of the room. I think I duct-taped myself emotionally to the chair. It was like, you will sit through this! But by the end of it, I was heartbroken at the time, but felt like I had gone 40 years of my life not knowing I had a right arm. I walked out of that workshop going, “Oh my God, there’s this whole part of me that’s undiscovered, unexplored, and unexpressed. Now I have to learn how to use this thing, because it’s clumsy. I’m really good with my left hand, I built a whole life with my left hand. But it’s not the one, now I need to have some unity.” 

So the challenge was, as I said, it was clumsy. So I walked around and smashed some shit with it unfortunately, and bobbled some things, or didn’t know how to use it skillfully. So therefore, went on a whole journey of study, of teachers, of workshops, and books, of self-exploration, of contemplation, of examination, and came to the idea very quickly that no one had taught me how to be the thing that I am. That was a giant gap in my life. Then I got out into the world and wrote a book called Today I Rise, on divorce and heartbreak and how you use it. 

And this curious thing happened. Men reached out to me, in droves. My entire professional life had been mostly women. I ran a gym. I was an acupuncturist. Women were seeking me out professionally. Now I’ve got a dude emailing me, like, “Hey, man, I read your book. I think I want to quit drinking too, but my buddies are telling me that I’m kind of a wuss for doing this. Do you have any advice?” Now I’m in an interesting stage of my life at this point. I’ve sold my business. I’m divorced. I’m living in, God bless him, a buddy’s house in the Hamptons, where I don’t have to pay rent, and I have a paycheck coming in for the next year. So every single time a guy emailed me, which was multiple times a week, I went “Hey, do you mind if we get on the phone?” I’d get the curious, like, are you sure? I was like, yeah, let’s get on the phone. So for the course of a year, I probably talked to 250 men, and got their stories and got these patterns, and started listening and hearing. And going, “Oh, you know what, I don’t think you have a relationship issue, I think you have an integrity issue. I don’t think you’re drinking too much because you’re an alcoholic. You don’t know what to do. You don’t have a vision. You don’t have a purpose. You don’t know what to do with yourself.”

The space to even occupy and be connected in this deeper way that I’m sensing you’re referring to.

Yeah. What was so interesting was how much hurt, pain, trauma, little t trauma and big T trauma, I listened to, and I’d say, “Hey, have you worked through that? Like, I’m not a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. Have you ever talked to a professional?” They were like, “No, it wasn’t a big deal.” I’m like, “Hey, man, you watched your dad beat the shit out of your mom on a weekly basis, and then beat the shit out of you. Or you were raped by your neighbor.” Or something horrible, things that I know I’d be a heroin addict over. They’re like, “No, but it was 30 years ago.” 

Okay, there’s something going on here in the world. There’s an epidemic of pain in the male animal that we’re not talking about, we’re not addressing, we’re not even acknowledging exists. We’re actually shaming it. We’re saying, “You need to man up. You need to get through this. You need to buck up. You need to cowboy!” Whatever we want to say it. As opposed to saying, “Oh my God, come with me. Let me hold you. Let me hear you. Let me see that. Let me carry some of that burden with you.” So that’s how I ended up here emotionally. 

One day, I had an idea for a different paradigm of masculinity, which is a whole nother story, which I won’t put your listeners through. But essentially, I came upstairs from a gym and threw an idea on Instagram that said, “Hey, what if masculinity had like spectrum, from the primal all the way through the divine, and it was inclusive of both as opposed to one or the other? Just an idea, like, hey, what do you guys think?” Well, post, and I go back for the rest of my life. Then boom, everything blew up! Emails and DMs. “Hey, will you come speak? Hey, can I hire you? Hey, will you write this stuff down?” I went, okay, I may be onto something here. I tried to run from it and hide from it because it was too big and too scary and I didn’t want to take it on. After about 24 hours in bed, praying to God to give me another talent, I decided to run with it. So again, long answer to a short question, that’s how I got here. 

Well, there’s so much, and I know that you’ve been giving us the abbreviated version. So I think that as people are listening and resonating, perhaps, will definitely seek out either one of your books or even what you have to offer to learn more. I can even just feel, and we’re looking at each other via Zoom, and I can feel the meaning in this. This was many years ago, and yet there’s still a living into this that I can palpably experience through Zoom, but through your facial expressions and your tone of voice. So I appreciate you embodying that. 

I also hear you speaking to a collective, that you’ve referred to the uncivilized movement, and I want to turn to that in a moment. But as we look at evolution and development, and we look at masculinity, and you’re referring to some ways in which we’ve labelled, judged, shamed, and put men or even young boys into certain boxes. Even as you talk about the spectrum of a human experience, and then also referencing the primal and the divine, and I want people to hear what you mean about that. But it’s allowing for a fuller spectrum. I’ve even heard the term “gender abuse” as it relates to masculine. Like, anger is okay. The range of emotions. Like, really, it’s pretty narrow.

Angry and horny, this is what you guys have to work with. That makes a great combination, by the way. Sad? No, no, no sadness. No, don’t get there.

Oh, my Goodness, and that it’s actually abusive to have such a restricted narrow. Because not only is it in the external collective at large, and how we’re perpetuating, but it’s also highly internalized. So as you talk about these coping mechanisms to function, but with such limitation, it’s a lot to ask somebody to live in such limited zone and restricted, and cut off parts of themselves. To be living this fully authentic, integrative, embodied balanced way, I don’t know how that works.

It’s a conundrum. We are confused societally of what we want from men, and so we give a lot of mixed messages. I’m not going to say that we don’t do the same with women, but I’ll speak specifically to men. That we say like, “Hey, you need to feel everything. Oh, by the way, if you act this way, it’s toxic. Oh, by the way, but we’re going to ask you to act this way.” I remember, I think the APA came out with something around some guidelines on what was toxic masculinity a couple years ago. It was stoicism, leadership, risk-taking, and compartmentalizing. I went, okay, cool. Then a week later, California caught on fire. I remember thinking how many men are going to fight these fires, who have leadership, stoicism, compartmentalism, all the things. What I didn’t see was a parade of protesters on the way to the fire, saying, “Turn around with your toxic masculinity.” Like, no signs and asking of these men. So we’re confused, we don’t know what to ask of men. 

I think the challenge is we haven’t gotten to the “Yes AND”, which is, “Hey, we need you to be able to compartmentalize, we need you to be able to shut your feelings down, because we’re going to ask you to go kill and die.” But here’s what we’re going to do, here’s the And. When you come back from doing something like that, we’re going to hold you, and we’re actually going to ask you to step into your feelings. We’re going to ask you to release them. We’re going to give you a space to do that. Because we’re not just going to ask one thing of you but then not take care of you on the backend.

So again, there’s this confusion about real men Y; real men cry, real men don’t cry. Like, bullshit! I’m like, is it one tear, what’s going on here? We want more vulnerable men; we need more vulnerable men. We hear this and hear this and hear this. I remember asking a group of women this question, I was like, you guys want more vulnerable men? Every hand goes up. I said, cool. Okay, imagine dating a guy and he cries twice a year, he breaks down and has this beautiful display of emotions and shares his feelings and his fears with you. They’re like, “Oh my God, that’s so beautiful.” I was like, cool. Now imagine he does it once a month, how many of you want that? It was like, nah, a couple of hands didn’t go up. I was like, how about once a week? Nah. I said, how about twice a day, you’re going to be okay with this? It was like, no, he needs to be a man. 

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“So we don’t really want more vulnerable men. We want this kind of Disneyesque “vulnerable when we want it, but not vulnerable when we don’t” type of human, which is confusing as hell to our masculine linear brains.”

It’s like, “Well, is it 63.2% vulnerable? Is that good? Or 63.4%? Show me on the chart, where am I supposed to be?” So we say some of this in jest, but when I talk to men or talk to men in relationship, I feel like I’m pulled in every different direction.

No kidding! Also, you’re talking about how this manifests in intimate relationship, which I love. Because that’s what really, here on the show, we focus on, in the Empowered Relationship Podcast. So there’s probably so many dynamics, which I would love to keep. I know we don’t have time to fully delve into that, but I just appreciate you bringing that up. Also, you talk about the types, historically. The Marlboro, which is disconnected to one’s emotion for the sake of what was needed at the time. It was a wise, most smartest way of being, given the culture and the terms of that. I would love to hear your voice around that. Then also, you talk about the nice guy. It even can be, a lot of times in development, there’s like a pendulum swing. So part of what I feel like you’re bringing into conversation is, how is this more integrated, and can we make space for the primal? I want to quote you, but I want hear your voice on the different types up until now. Because I think a lot of men in the nice guy perhaps are rejecting and pushing away the Marlboro Man, because they don’t want to hurt anybody. Or maybe they even fear their own primal-ness, because they don’t want to be toxic men. So talk to us a little bit about that.

There’s a lot to it. So let’s talk first about the 1950s Marlboro Man. That was many of our fathers or many of our grandfathers. I think one of the challenges is that we look at these men through 2023 eyes, as opposed to, my grandfather was in the third wave of storming the beach at Normandy, as a 19-year-old. I remember at 16 thinking 19-year-olds were grown-ass adults. As a 47-year-old, I look at a 19-year-old and go, “Oh wow, you are a child, no offense to 19-year-olds!” A mile off of the beach, they didn’t stop all the boats and say, “Okay, John, how are you feeling? You’re sad and scared. Okay, John, you don’t have to do this. Stuart, how are you? Oh wow, you’re a little bit terrified. Okay, well, you don’t have to do this either.” There was this requirement of men, which when I go back to the fire story is still in play; we still require men to do our killing and dying for us for the most part. If you look at the top 10 jobs that have the highest death rate, they’re all male-dominated. We still ask of this. We still expect this. So it’s still in the culture. But it was more prevalent back then, and for different reasons. 

Now, then the pendulum swung the other way, to how many of us grew up with that man as our figure and went “I will not be him. I will not be an alcoholic. I will not be screaming at my mother. I will not be toxic. I will not be abusive. I will not be shut down.” But what we don’t realize is how traumatized that 1950s Man is. This is the way I like to say it. We throw the masculine baby out with the toxic bathwater. So instead of saying, “Hey, I don’t want to be like my dad, my grandfather, my uncle, these men that I see on television,” I’m just going to collapse. I’m going to go the completely other direction and turn myself into something that actually doesn’t fit who I am.

Accommodating, pleasing.

Completely shapeshifting. I have no needs, I have no wants, I have no desires. Tell me who you want me to be, and I’ll be it for you. Just please don’t leave me, because I’m sourcing my okay-ness in the world from you the feminine. I’ve turned you into my mommy. So please, let me snuggle up with you, let me cuddle with you at night. Just don’t call me a bad boy, which is very infantile. This was me in my marriage, so I can speak to it directly. If we sent her back to the two pillars of what I talk about with uncivilized, it is both the primal and the divine, where so many men have been put in the middle and said, “Okay, you’ve got to go left, you’ve got to go right, which is it? 1950s, or sensitive New Age shutdown nice guy. What do you want to do here?” A lot of guys do choose that, and society does ask us to choose that. So my inbox and email blew up on that day when I posted on Instagram because they said, what if we meet in the middle? 

What if we actually say, there are parts of me that are very traditionally masculine? I like to deadlift. I’m just using archetypal things. I like 1967 Mustangs. I like to shoot guns. I was a professional fighter. I like man shit. I like to chop wood. I like to lead. I have a vision. I have a purpose in my life. I know why I’m here. I want to adventure. I want to put myself in some scary situations to remind myself I’m alive. I love jujitsu. I like to have sex with my partner in a certain way. I have primal aspects to me. I love the quote that civilization is only three days deep. You take a guy and you put them in the woods for three days, and suddenly, he doesn’t really give a shit about his cell phone. He doesn’t care about a lot of the things; he’s just fully engrossed in nature. That’s the primal. 

Now let’s swing over to the divine, which is a loaded term. I know a lot of people think, White male Jesus. But I’m talking about consciousness here. That man on the left, the primal man, is incomplete in this day and age, especially if he wants to be in relationship. I don’t just deadlift and chop wood and my partner’s like, “Oh my God, thank you so much for all that you bring to me and support me in.” I need to have emotional intelligence. I need to be able to feel my damn heart.

Well, it’s incomplete, and it’s partial. It’s painful and not fully embodied for the person living it or the person in relationship. 

Exactly, it’s like you’re living in black and white. 

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“Emotions are the color of our experience. When we hear a song and we start crying. When we smell a smell and we have feelings. If we’re cut off from that, we just turn into robots.”

So awakening that in men also requires giving them permission, and holding space for it, and an allowance of male emotion beyond angry and horny, which requires all of us. But first, that permission has to come from that man to work through the patterning and conditioning that said, “We will actually assault you if you cry. We will beat you. We will shun you. We will kick you out of the friend group.” Whatever happened to us in junior high, or below or even younger, from our parents, from our mothers, from our fathers that said, “Hey, you’re going to grow up to be a man someday, you’ve got to shut that shit down.” Awakening that allows for the full spectrum of experience, allows for men to feel. 

Then we have to say, when you feel, guys, here’s what’s going to be hard. It’s going to make you change some things, you’re suddenly going to start challenging what you’ve been told. You’re going to stand up in your relationship and say, “Actually, that’s not okay with me,” which may cause friction in your relationship. Or you may say, “Hey, I love that, I want more of it,” which then you have to tap into self-worth, like, am I allowed to want more of something good? Yes, you are. So it’s opening up, as we’ve said many times, for the full spectrum of the human experience cloaked in a masculine banner or under a masculine umbrella.

Infused with the masculine-ness.

There you go. So I often get guys that are shut down in one area, pretty clear. They’re shut down in the primal. Had an abusive father, they think masculinity is scary, they’ve been told their desires aren’t allowed. Or they’re completely the other side, and they’re collapsed. They have no sense of masculinity; they think it’s bad to be a man. They truly do, they’ve been shamed out of that. So we go: “Cool, let’s wake up both of these sides. So let’s wake up the side that’s not awake.” Beautiful!

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“Here’s what most guys do, and I know this because I did it. They ping pong back and forth between the two. Mondays: I deadlift, Tuesdays: I write poetry. Which, it’s okay, but it makes for a bit of a confusing life as well.”

As opposed to, how do we integrate the two of these? How do you make art out of your exercise? How do you make exercise out of your art? How do you make art out of your relationship? How do you make your relationship primal? How do you make your relationship a connection to God, whatever that word means to you? How do you turn sex into something beyond friction, and into something that’s enlightening and connecting and deepening? How do you allow for your partner to weep and cry and sob in the middle of an experience like that? How do you learn to hold exquisite space? You do that by actually allowing yourself to be human, no matter what your anatomical makeup is. That, I think, is the big hurdle right now, Jessica. That’s the challenge. Because when men step into this, they immediately get smacked in the face with all of the societal conditioning that says: “Whoa, slow down. Wait a minute. We need you buying shit. We need you chasing women. We need you on pharmaceuticals. We need you working 20 hours a day. And we need you being a man. So unplug from this new idea that says you have autonomy and sovereignty, even though we want you to have autonomy and sovereignty, and plug back into our collective unconsciousness.”

Wow, I appreciate you giving voice to these two parts that just lived into, on their own, are incomplete and limiting and probably harmful to themselves. Not harmful, but potentially, and can be a limiting experience, which often for men is unsatisfying, or for anyone, unsatisfying and unfulfilling. You’re really bringing into how to hold both and even live into it in integration. Even when you were talking, I was like: Oh my gosh, when I was young, I dated. I was with him for like two and a half years, and he played college football, and very much was in the physical part of that very masculine, but also wrote poetry and majored in English. But his dad was LAPD, full line, whole career. There’s a stereotype to that, and I think that stereotype existed. But he raged all the time. I mean, I felt his heart and I felt his love. But living into it, and really relating from this integration and being able to hold both, we broke up and then since had some healing conversations. He has just developed, he’s not stupid and not fazed. But we need this voice; we need other people that are modeling this. Because even if people listening who identify as a man and can recognize these parts of themselves, and maybe do things in their life that give expression, you’re talking about something very different than just tapping into it. You’re talking about living from a different stage.

Yeah, living into a different paradigm, one that is inclusive of both sides. Prior to my marriage, I was a professional MMA fighter and an acupuncture student at the same time. So my life was wild; my morning was hyper-masculine! Guys on steroids, gangbangers, people who were doing this sport so they didn’t go to prison. This was 20 years ago before it became lucrative. It was just like, fighters off the street would gather, and then at night, going and sitting with primarily women talking about soft energetic medicine. Then I felt a little bit insane. It wasn’t until I said, there needs to be an integration here. It’s the Yin Yang circle. I want the little bit of the black dot and the white piece; I want a little bit of the white dot and the black piece. 

I know we’ve talked about relationship. I find this to be far more trustworthy in a man. My partner needs to know that there’s a primal aspect to me, because she can feel it. This is the thing that we do, just don’t get. I’m fine, is like, “Oh no, you’re not. I can feel every part of you that’s out of alignment, every part of you that’s out of integrity, every part of you that’s full of shit, when you just said I’m fine.” 

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“I have to be primal, and I have to be conscious. I have to live both of these two. Here’s the beauty, they feed and require each other.”

I really want to go down the road of “Okay, this thing happened to me when I was eight, and I now need to process this and work through it.” Guess what, guys? That’s going to take some courage, that’s going to take some warrior energy, that’s going to take some balls, and it’s going to take your heart being able to hold you. Not just your partner, but hold you through that process, where afterwards you get to go look in the mirror and say, “I love you so much for working through that with me.” I don’t want to speak crassly, but honestly, that’s fucking courage! It takes every ounce of strength that you tried to develop in the gym, it requires that. So these things aren’t lost. You don’t just put one to the side and then shift over to the other. They actually do feed each other. 

I’m still stumbling through the articulation of that with men, because it’s the felt sense thing for me now. It’s like, well, how do you talk about feelings? Oh boy, you stutter through them!

Well, as I’m hearing you speak, and I get it that these things are not easily named, because it is such an energy, embodiment, a feeling. It’s like one listening, or even myself when I can recognize places where either I was unconscious, had trauma, or lived in ways that I pushed it aside, made it not welcome, not okay, or cut myself off from it, and then when I have some awakening. I can feel the dissonance, I can feel the fragment of that in myself. Then when I learned to see it, hold it, learn to be with it, learn to start having it be more with me and a part of me. Then the openness, the spaciousness, the access that I have, is so much more whole. I feel like I can stretch my arms out, and I don’t have to be all twisted up and making all these Twister moves. So it is hard to describe. But it’s a real feeling that I think people listening know what it feels like, to lie, to hide, to deny, to repress. To have certain parts of myself, or certain parts of ourselves that are trying to get attention or knock on the door and we say: No, no, no, no, no. Yet, the side effects of that which you talked about in the start of your story. 

I wanted to quote you because I just feel like it was so beautiful, in your Uncivilized Man. What’s the title again?

Man UNcivilized.

Man UNcivilized, I will get it. That you had talked about “strength without love is tyranny, and love without strength is victimhood.” That resonated so strongly. That when we live in these fragmented parts of ourselves, it can be imbalanced and unhealthy and lead to harm to ourself and other. I’m not saying in really traumatic ways, we have choice, of course. But just even living, I can speak to myself when I have cut certain parts off or been coping to certain traumas, there’s harm in that.

For sure. It’s mild self-abuse to say, I won’t be who I am for the sake of society. I’m not talking about like, I don’t get to be a serial killer, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be since I was a kid. It’s not anything dangerous. But just to say, “Hey, I am a poet, I am a writer. I need to write for the world. I need to give my gift, even if it’s just on napkins to myself.” But to deny myself that for external reasons, to me, it’s self-harm. It may be mild, but it’s really easy to be out of integrity with your partner if you’re out of integrity with yourself. 

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“It’s really easy to lie to your partner if you’re lying to yourself. When you make the decision and the choice to be in integrity with yourself, with your heart and with your soul, then it’s very easy. It’s simple, let’s say, perhaps not easy.”

But it’s more simple to say to a partner, “Hey, this doesn’t work for me. This no longer works for me.” To say to a boss, “Hey, I’m actually not going to be treated that way. Yes, there’s downstream effects of choice. We live in ecosystems. But at night, when you put your hand on your heart and your head on the pillow, you will feel good; you will feel different, you will feel peace, you will feel the beauty that is integrity. It’s like, “Hey, I know why I’m here, and I’m living into that.

Yeah. Traver, I’m smiling because I also have felt your voice around how healing that is, not only for oneself. To be living in that integrity, and to be able to have that clear conscience, and to feel right with oneself. But also, how healing it is to be witness to that, whether or not it’s a spouse or a child, whomever is in relationship, in the workforce, or being in leadership with. It’s healing!

It’s a big word, but people don’t seem to understand it. I didn’t understand until someone said, like, I get you. I burst out crying and sobbing, I was like, “Oh, finally, someone understands me!” I see you. Oh, I felt invisible my entire life, thank you so much. Now let me celebrate you. 

Oh, I have tears in my eyes just feeling it! Because it’s so powerful to be in presence with someone who is honoring their essence, and in your language, the primal, but also is honoring the emotion and the full spectrum of emotion, and the purpose. I mean, it’s quite powerful for any human being to be living in that way, but when we give permission and model for the development of the masculine. I’ll say, when I was listening to your book, it was like, my masculine parts were resonating with you. I don’t identify as a man, but I could definitely appreciate the voice and what you were offering in the scaffolding around that. 

Is there anything you want to say for people listening that can put this into practical? I mean, this journey is, I imagine, maybe years. So just even practical, like, what does this look like? Because we’re saying it’s not easy to describe, and that the process of integrating likely is a learning curve, and will take a lot of iteration. Just like you said, getting in the learning curve, fumbling around a little bit, and starting to feel this out. What does this look like when somebody starts to have? Is there any practical example you want to give us? One thing I will say, to just start this off, and I know we don’t have a ton of time with you, but the one that maybe resonates a little bit more with the nice guy. You were like, ask for something every day. Most of the time, someone who’s in that nice guy kind of persona, tends to not either give themselves permission to know what they want, and then even to ask for it. Do you want to speak to that at all?

Yeah, I’d love to! I love talking to nice guys. I have a huge community of those guys who I work with. It’s like, that’s my heart, because that was my pain. That was the pain that I lived through. I think it’s very apropos or very necessary to speak to that demographic and say that you guys are in pain. Like, your heart is in the right place. I really want to be in relationship. Those guys have so much love to give. Yet, the avenue that they’ve chosen to go down is a dead end street, so then they start down the same street again and again and again. 

Here’s a great exercise that I give these guys, and I want to say this probably eight times before I give the exercise. I’m not advocating for there to be no women on earth. So here’s the exercise. I will say to guys, what would you do if you woke up tomorrow and there were no more women? Now I will then get 15 emails or DMs, dude, why don’t you want there to be women on earth? It’s like, I said eight times in the disclaimer, I don’t want this. But what would you do with yourself? Would you still go to the gym in the same way? Would you still have your same job? Would you live in your city? What would you do with your free time? It’s a bit of a mind scramble for so many men to start to think: “Oh, I actually just do this to be around women. I actually just do this to extract nurturance from the feminine. I don’t actually know what I want.” I’ll tell you, I would keep surfing as often as possible. I would still do jujitsu. I would still write my ass off as often as possible. I would still hike mountains. I would still do a lot of the things that I do. But 10 years ago, the answer to the question would have been like, I probably wouldn’t do any of the things that I’m doing. Because I’m covertly doing them to put myself around women, to get the affirmation of women, to get the sexual whatever I want from women, whatever it may be. 

So I tell men specifically, I want you to know what your needs are as a man. If it’s the nice guy community, instantly, it’s like, “Well, I don’t really think that way. I just have needs as a human.” Cool, I have needs as a human too. I need a roof over my head, food, water, shelter, a little bit heat, love. Good. Now, here’s what I need as a man. I need challenge. I go to jujitsu every day, because it’s a test. I need friction. I need to know how do I match up against this guy in front of me or person in front of me, I need that. I need to write with a certain frequency and with a certain intensity. I need to have sex in a certain capacity and with a certain intensity. I need actually to have contemplative time. I need to go sit under a damn tree and go “Man, this whole thing is really confusing! There’s a lot out here I need to feel.” I need to meditate. Like, that’s my Man playbook, just for me personally. 

So when I got in relationship, I handed that playbook to Katie, my partner. I was like, “Here’s the deal, this stuff won’t change. I would love to be influenced in certain ways by you, and then have you add and color my life in all the ways I don’t already have. But like, jujitsu, surfing, writing, adult time let’s call it, that stuff is not changing.” So if I don’t do these things, here’s what I know from my history. I need to start drinking again. I need to start smoking pot. I’ll be jerking off on the internet. I will be shut down, depressed, anxious, etc. I won’t be sleeping at night. Like, I know what happens when those things aren’t in play. Now, it’s my responsibility as a human, man or otherwise, to say, I have to orient my life in a way that allows for those things in the best capacity. I get that it’s a privilege to say, “Well, I need 18 different things today, and if I don’t get that, I’m going to be an addict.” It’s not quite like that.

Just being in service of what you’ve gotten connected with and know your optimal zone of where you thrive and where your purpose is. I love that you’re exercising. I’ve used something similar, but I describe it differently. It’s almost as if pushing away other people’s opinion or what they want from you, just to give enough space. You can always come back to, how does that fit with that person, or how does that fit with that? Like, just even get to know where you are and what you’re occupying, what matters to you, what you would prefer? These types of things. 

What does your soul want? That’s another important question for men. Like, if we take certain things off the table, and I get it, we have to make money. We live in a culture where I don’t just get to go to my landlord this month and be like, “Well, my soul really wanted freedom, so thanks.” But my soul is also like, “Hey, if you just live a life to pay rent, I’ll burn the damn house down for you and let you go live in the woods for a couple of weeks and figure out what’s really important.” So I think addressing both, Jessica, is something that nice guys specifically, nice guys are afraid of the primal; they’re afraid of masculinity, they’re afraid of other men. That is the number one thing I immediately do with a group of nice guys. Hey, we need to get you around healthy conscious men, who aren’t your competition, who aren’t going to beat you up, who aren’t going to put you down. Because then you actually will be okay and safe around a group of women, because you’re getting your nourishment; you’re getting your needs met at a deeper level. 

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“Hanging out with a group of guys, that’s like organic salad from Whole Foods, so you’re not over here trying to pluck everything that you can get off the fruit of the feminine.”

So that’s another big piece for those guys.

You’re being the brother’s keeper as you were talking about it, and having that brotherhood. I appreciate this so much. I have a question that relates to this before we close out here, that fits with this. The question is, when I was listening to your book, there’s a certain style in which you’re referring to and speaking about, and I think many men would resonate, and it’s a little bit more around how you describe like the man shit. It’s very much expressed. 

I also know that what you’re describing, and the primal and the divine and the integration, perhaps doesn’t need to look exactly like that to be primal. Could you speak to other versions that you’ve seen, where men are embodying the primal that might not look like the jujitsu fighter or the guns or that? Just to give people some reference around accessing that in maybe other ways? 

Sure. One of my best friends, a guy named Dr. Jeremy Goldberg, @LongDistanceLoveBombs on Instagram. The way he writes poetry, it’s fierce. I’m like, dude, that was epic! Like, that makes me want to go fight a city. But he’s a poet. I remember when I met him, he had long hair, he painted his fingernails. I was like, the way you write, the way I’ve seen men dance. It can be any expression to me, we don’t have to take the classic. I’m old school classic, sort of hyper-masculine world. But I’ve seen anything you can think of; the way people make art, spoken word, poetry. That is fierce! That’ll light a fire in your ass. It’ll punch you right in the heart. Literally, watching men paint, watching men play music, make music, or it doesn’t even have to be men, there’s a fierceness to it. I don’t care what the activity is. 

Jujitsu can also be soft and beautiful and lovely. Not often, but it can be. So can deadlifting, so can “chopping wood.” Just the same way that dance singing, art, beauty, anything that’s got oomph to it, to me is the primal. Or go hang out in the woods, you can just sit under a tree and you’ll realize. Anything that drops you into your instinct. Get you out of your head, even out of your heart, into your guts. That to me is the primal. I don’t care what the expression is, or what you’re wearing, or how long your hair is, or if your nails are painted. Like, that’s the window dressing, that’s irrelevant to me. What’s the feeling? Does it make you feel alive? Does it light something up in you? Surfing is a prime example. It’s both. It’s truly, truly both. I have wept in the ocean, sitting out there waiting for a wave, just at how beautiful it is. I’ve also had mama ocean try to drown me, and I’ve had to fight with every ounce of my physical being to get air and go: Okay, this is the perfect blend of the primal and divine. People stare at the ocean and cry. People go sit by the ocean and watch the sunset, and feel connected to something bigger. Anyone who’s paddled into a set of a wave that’s over five feet knows. Okey dokey then, she needed to whoop my ass today.

Power and humility, yes.

Does that answer your question?

I’m so glad. I felt that, and I just wasn’t sure. I wanted to check it out with you, and I appreciate that you’re giving room and space for any expression. 

So, Traver, how do people access your teachings, what you’re offering? What would you like to share with people that want to connect with you more?

Beautiful. I’m going to first talk about something we have coming out, which I’ve been planning for about a year and a half. It’s a three-month programme called Behind the Masks of Men. This is partnered with Dewey Freeman, if you know him. He’s a brilliant seven-year-old therapist, who has probably trained more therapists than any other man in the world. And Michael Gay, who’s another therapist who did years and years of wilderness therapy. They’re my co-teachers in the workshop, The Initiation. After The Initiation, one time, we sat down and went, we need to go deep into a couple of different topics. We need to go deep into anger. We need to go deep into relationship, because men and relationships are still sometimes foreign objects. And we need to talk about sex and desire. Let’s talk about all the things that we’re not talking about in those three sections. So we’re taking a month for each section. I’ll say the relationship and attachment one, the middle one is co-ed, so women are welcome to join us for that one. But anger, we’re getting a roomful of guys together and being like, let’s talk about it. Sex and desire, there’s a lot more than friction, fellas! There’s stuff that most guys aren’t talking about even the basics. 

I hit on something this morning that I’d love to share around that, just because I hit it off this morning, is how many men have had the false initiation into sexuality through porn? The false initiation. It’s like, no wonder why they get around a real woman and are like, “Ah, wait, you’re not, but what about the plumber just came over and then she was, etc.” 

So please check that out. It’s at ManUNcivilized.com/BehindTheMasks. That program we’re hoping is going to blow up. I’m on Instagram @TraverBoehm. I have a podcast, The Uncivilized Podcast. My two books are, Today I Rise, which you know what’s crazy Jessica? That thing sat on Amazon. That was like, you know when you have a big brother and a little brother, and the big brother is like: “Wow, you’re the football star.” And the little brother, everyone is like: “Oh, look at you, you’re adorable.” Then five years later, he’s like 6’8″, 240, and he’s crushing his big brother’s records. Today I Rise sat for about two years and sold 50 copies, now it is outselling Man UNcivilized three to one. I have a team of marketers behind Man UNcivilized, and I have a podcast that sells Man UNcivilized. So unfortunately, I think heartbreak is perhaps on the rise, or people are realizing there’s something they can do with it. So, for everybody listening, please get your hands on Man UNcivilized. You can get a hold of a physical copy. It is a force! It was designed by a genius who is not me, and is an easy read for both men and women.

Absolutely, I’ll make sure to have all of these links on today’s show notes. Traver, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. 

It was a pleasure!

Signing Off

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching