We live in a world inundated by visual and emotional stimuli. People, events, and technology all clamor for our attention. Look over here! Look over there! Buy this! Buy that! Change this! Change that! Stop this! Start that! We listen to talk all day long – from the people around us, from the media, from the voices inside our heads. These voices constantly jab and poke at us, prodding us into action or reaction. We can feel deluged in al that chatter. We can feel goaded into responding before we’re ready.
All of this activity produces stress. From getting out the door so we can get to work on time, to completing the project at work, to communicating with co-workers about that project, to keeping track of the myriad of ways people have to demand our attention, you can feel very overwhelmed. Add to that the stress of realistic and unrealistic expectations about who you are and who you’re supposed to be from yourself, your family, and others, and each day can be a sort of assault on a man’s sense of competency and worth.
Don’t get me wrong — for all of that, I’m generally up for the challenge. If it’s me against the world, I say “Look out, world!” But I have to admit there are days when it seems like the world has the upper hand. On those days, I find myself needing to “get away from it all” in order to have some space to think and plan and recharge.
It was in John Gray’s book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus where I first heard the term “cave dwell.” According to Gray, men cave dwell; they withdraw in order to process actions and reactions, for emotional safety and protection. Men withdraw for a variety of reasons, and they also have a variety of ways to withdraw.
I’d like you to think of the “caves” you’ve created – places where you can go and be alone. With those visuals in mind, answer these questions:
1) What’s the first cave you can remember?
2) What sent you there in the first place?
3 How often do you find yourself withdrawing into your cave of choice?
4) How long do you need to be “offline” before you’re ready to get back in the game?
5) What stresses today trigger you to head into the cave?
6) Is there a particular time of the day or day of the week when you’re more tempted to check out?
7) When you’re in your cave, how do you react when asked to leave?
8) What’s the longest you’ve spent truly alone in your life?
9) Of all the secrets you hold close, which is the one that frightens you the most?
10) Of all the secrets you hold close, which one do you make sure you never reveal?
11) When was the last time you were completely honest with someone? Who was it and why did you share what you did?
12) Who are the people you hide from the most?
13) Who are the people you love the most? Compare and contrast your answers above.
14) In order to open up to another person, what do you need in place first?
15) Are you someone who is able to hear the secrets of others?
16) Are you someone who is trustworthy with the secrets of others?
17) What is more important to you – to be respected or to be known for who you are?
18) Do you think it’s impossible for people to love you (or respect you, like you, trust you) if they know who you really are and what you really think? Complete the questions using each of the words in parentheses.
19) What is your definition of courage?
20) Are you a strong enough person to let others see your faults?
The above is excerpted from chapter 4 in Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within by Dr. Gregory Jantz.