Mental Health

Photo by: Dainis Graveris / Unsplash

Part 1

            I suspect that there are a lot of males reading this, and probably a lot of females as well, who would like to know the secret. I could tease you with a lot of words and at the end suggest you buy my book, but I suspect you’d like to hear it up front and then read the details later. So here it is. The hidden secret for becoming a sexually successful male is Quiet Confidence (QC).

            Most people will be surprised. They believe sexually successful males are: Movie-star handsome, rich, powerful, strong, dominant, high-achieving, persuasive talkers, intelligent, charismatic, sex-magnets for women (and men). Many believe you must possess at least one of these qualities and usually more than one before you can be sexually successful. I believe there is more to the story and I began learning it at a young age.

            I have been a counselor, coach, and psychotherapist for more than fifty years and helped thousands of men and women learn how to become successful in their lives. But I learned the secret for sexual success early in my life beginning when I was eight years old. I will be eighty this year and sexual success is different for males at different ages. But having QC is the magic we can begin to develop at any age. Here’s my story. Others will have a different story about sexual success. You can decide if mine is helpful to you.

            I am an only child and my father left when I was five years old (If you’re interested in that story, do check out My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound. With my dad gone, my mother had to seek work outside the home and I learned to take care of myself. I spent a lot of time outside, mostly climbing whatever trees I could find. My frightened mother would call me down to dinner but never discouraged my self-confidence.  

            My one close friend was Caroline (her parents called her Sissy since she was the youngest of the three daughters). She was also independent and adventurous and it was Sissy who introduced me to sex when we were eight years old. When we eventually got caught, my mother tried to calm Caroline’s mother by telling her we were only “playing doctor” and examining each other’s genitals. But the truth was that though we were both curious, it was Sissy who took the lead and our sex play had nothing to do with playing doctor. Our sex play was real and we both got our first taste of Quiet Confidence.

            What I learned at age 8 from Sissy about QC:

  1. Females are as interested in sex as males and probably have a lot to teach us.
  2. Be playful, respectful, and only do things you both freely choose to do.

My next lesson in QC came when I was twelve years old when my mother took me to visit my grandmother in Texas. We had been going every year since I was six years old and I was always bored since I spent long hours with adults and there were no kids in the neighborhood to play with. But this year was different and my grandmother had arranged for me to meet some other Jewish kids my age.

It was a fun evening at the Jewish community center and we had refreshments, played games, and met new people. I got talking to one of the girls named Rachel and when she heard I was from California and lived in “North Hollywood,” she saw me as some kind of celebrity (those who know where I grew up, know that North Hollywood is a long way from the celebrity world of Tinseltown.)

Though there was adult supervision for this gathering of 12- to 14-year-old kids, they left us alone. When Rachel invited me to go into the Rabbi’s office, I thought my fun time had ended and I would be subjected to some kind of religious admonitions about the dangers of premature sexual experimentation.

Rachel’s smile promised something more. She led me by the hand into a dimly lit office. No Rabbi was present, just a few pairs of kids “making out,” “touching and feeling,” and clearly getting their own kind of education via sexual experimentation. I was ecstatic.

What I learned at age 12 from Rachel about QC:

  1. Caring adults and communities can arrange for young adolescents to come together (pun intended) in safe places.
  2. Sex-positive adults allow boys and girls to develop sex positive attitudes and practices and gain confidence by doing what comes naturally.

My next lesson in developed QC I learned from Julia when I was 15 ½.

Growing up in southern California the place teens went to play in the summertime was the community swimming pool. It was a great place to see each other with little clothing to hide our attributes. Playful touching was encouraged and what went on under the water was…well, you can imagine.

Lots of boys wanted to play with Julia. She was super cute and I didn’t think I had a chance to get to touch her. She seemed way out of my league. She was a budding beauty and I was a short nerdy kid with a big nose. But I worked up enough courage to talk to her. She told me she liked that I didn’t try to grab her, but obviously was interested in her. She encouraged me to be more assertive with girls I liked and by the end of the summer, I invited her on a date, having just gotten my learners permit and could borrow my parent’s car.

In the privacy of our own room, i.e. my parent’s car, we shared our first, “going all the way,” sexual experience.

What I learned at age 15 1/2 from Julia about QC:

  1. Don’t grab. Be respectful. Be assertive.
  2. Don’t assume anyone you’re interested in is out of your league. It may take until the end of the summer (or much longer) before you believe it, but don’t give up.

Becoming Quietly Confident doesn’t guarantee success in all aspects of our lives. I married my college sweetheart when I was 23 and she was 19. We were married for ten years and had two wonderful children. But like many couples who married young, we grew apart and eventually divorced. I went through a difficult period and felt deeply wounded in body, mind, and spirit.

When I was thirty-three I learned another lesson about Quiet Confidence from my friend Steve. I had gotten very sick after my divorce and throughout my life when I was sick, there was a woman there to take care of me. First, my mother, later a wife, but now there was no one. It never occurred to me to call another man and ask for nurturing and care, but in desperation I called Steve.

He came right over, sat with me, and spent a week coming regularly to nurse me back to health. He made soup for me, cleaned up my apartment, and even gave me a massage. I had never been touched by another man since my father held me when I was a child. Just knowing that I was not reliant on women to care for me, opened a whole new world for me.

What I learned at age 33 from Steve about QC:

  1. Men are not only capable of nurturing other men, but essential to our long-term well-being.
  2. Knowing that men aren’t dependent on women for their health and wellbeing allows men to appreciate their own abilities to love and care for themselves.

Like many, eventually met someone and fell in love again, but I went through another marriage and divorce (check out my website introduction, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor,” to hear what I learned. My second marriage had become increasingly dysfunctional and violent and I was in danger of doing something destructive that I knew I would regret. When I saw a notice about a men’s event with psychologist, Dr. Herb Goldberg, author of the book, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege, I was intrigued.

The event was powerful as fifty men came together for a day to hear from an expert and more importantly share our own experiences about our woundedness as men. Even in a single day we began to open up and trust other men to help us heal. Following the event, one of the organizers invited those attending who were interested in forming a men’s group to meet at his home in Mill Valley.

The Men’s group that formed has been meeting regularly for 44 years. We have become a family of brothers from other mothers. Over the years, three members have dropped out, three have been added. Three have died and the rest of us continue to meet regularly. I am now the eldest of the group. I will turn 80 this month.

My wife, Carlin, says that the reason she believes we have had a successful 44-year marriage is because I have been in a men’s group for 45 years. She tells me she appreciates, among other things, my quiet confidence.

What I learned at age 80 from my men’s group about QC:

  1. Joining a men’s group may be the single most important thing a man can do if he wants to be successful in life.
  2. Learning to appreciate the gifts we can give and receive from guys in a men’s group gives us confidence we’ll never develop finding our intimate connections only with women.

So, to summarize what I’ve learned about The Hidden Secret For Becoming a Sexually Successful Male, by increasing Quiet Confidence (QC):

  1. Females are as interested in sex as males and probably have a lot to teach us.
  2. Be playful, respectful, and only do things you both freely choose to do.
  3. Caring adults and communities can arrange for young adolescents to come together (pun intended) in safe places.
  4. Sex positive adults allow boys and girls to develop sex positive attitudes and practices and gain confidence by doing what comes naturally.
  5. Don’t grab. Be respectful. Be assertive.
  6. Don’t assume anyone you’re interested in is out of your league. It may take until the end of the summer (or much longer) before you believe it.
  7. Men are not only capable of nurturing other men, but essential to our long-term well-being.
  8. Knowing that men aren’t dependent on women for their health and wellbeing allows men to appreciate their own abilities to love and care for themselves.
  9. Joining a men’s group may be the single most important thing a man can do if he wants to be successful in life.
  10. Learning to appreciate the gifts we can give and receive from guys in a men’s group  gives us confidence we’ll never develop finding our intimate connections only with women.

In Part 2, I will tell you more about the secrets of sexual success I have learned between 8 and 80. If you found this article helpful, please share it with others. If you’d like to read more articles like these, please consider subscribing to my free newsletter.

I am considering offering an on-line workshop for those who would like to learn more about “The Hidden Secret of Becoming a Sexually Successful Man.” If you are interested, please drop me an email to and put “Sexual Success” in the subject line and I will send you more details (It will be open to both men and women).

The post The Hidden Secret For Becoming a Sexually Successful Male appeared first on MenAlive.

We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.”  Alain De Botton

            In his poetic and powerful book, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte says,

“There is that first marriage, the one we usually mean, to another; that second marriage, which can so often seem like a burden to work or vocation; and that third, and most likely hidden, marriage to a core conversation inside ourselves.” 

Whyte goes on to say that

“the current understanding of work-life balance is too simplistic.”

For too many of us we feel like we are going up and down on a teeter-totter with our work and love lives competing for our attention while our personhood often gets battered underneath both seats. David Whyte offers us all a great service when he suggests this basic reality:

“Each of those marriages, is at its heart, nonnegotiable. We should give up the attempt to balance one  against another, of, for instance, taking away from work to give more time to a partner, or vice versa, and start thinking of each marriage conversing with, questioning, or emboldening the other two.”

Yet, even understanding the importance of empowering the three primary aspects of our lives and committing to a partner, our work, and our true selves, it often seems impossible to succeed having a successful marriage of all three.

I achieved success in my career, or more accurately, I was successful at working long hours, making good money, and gaining a level of public and professional acclaim. But my love life was a disaster. Writing a book (Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions) about it helped me professionally, but it didn’t immediately improve my relationship life. If you visit my website, you will see my welcome video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.”

Energy Rising: The Neuroscience of Leading with Emotional Power

            We need a new way of engaging the three nonnegotiable marriages for a lifetime of passion, power, and purpose. With my background over the last fifty plus years developing skills for healing men, women, and families, I was excited to read a recent book by neuropsychologist Dr. Julia DiGangi who completed her residency at a consortium of Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

            In her book, Energy Rising: The Neuroscience of Leading with Emotional Power, Dr. DiGangi offers an exciting new approach for helping us become successful in the three marriages we all need and want. She says,

“Your success in life—at work and at home—rises when you harness the energy that powers your brain. Your drive to create change, catalyze impact, and build relationships all come from neuroelectrical energy—real, electrical impulses—firing in your brain. Who you are as a person depends on how you work with this energy. When this energy rises within you, you feel empowered and dynamic. But when this energy falls, you feel down, stressed, and defeated.” [Emphasis, mine.]

Foundational Understandings for a Lifetime of Passion, Power, and Purpose

  • Emotional Power is the key to success in life.

Dr. DiGangi simply defines emotional power as

“Your ability to stay strong in the midst of life’s inevitable challenges.”

In these times of stress and strain all of us feel like we are knocked off balance. Emotional power is the foundation for everything that follows.

“Your emotions are, in many ways, the final judge of your experiences.”

says Dr. DiGangi.

“Until you understand how to work more effectively with your emotions, it’s easy to expend tremendous energy yanking at ineffective levers of change.”

She goes on to say,

“Your emotional power is best understood not as a set of activities you do or strategies you execute, but as energy you possess.”

  • Emotional Pain is the Invitation to Emotional Power.

Our brains create a whole lot of sensations that are both painful and pleasurable, but they all reduce to two kinds of emotional energies. She calls them: Emotional Pain and Emotional Power.

Emotional Pain includes any type of negative sensations you feel. These can include things like anxiety, fear, worry, irritation, anger, shame, etc.

Emotional Power includes any type of positive sensations that makes you feel worthy. These include positive sensations we call confidence, strength, resilience, importance, etc.

“In what I have come to understand as one of the greatest paradoxes of life,”

says Dr. DiGangi,

“the depth of your emotional power relies directly on your ability to work with the energy of your emotional pain.”

  • Embracing Emotional Pain is the only way to develop Emotional Power.

“To rise to new levels of your emotional power, you will have to accept one core counterintuitive premise: that your emotional pain—all those negative feelings you keep trying to avoid—is often the precise path to your empowerment.”

It is a normal reaction of all organisms to avoid pain, but there are times when avoiding one pain actually causes more pain in the long run and embracing pain can actually empower us.

Avoidance of your painful feelings doesn’t end your feelings; it just exhausts you,”

says Dr. DiGangi.

  • Failure to embrace Emotional Pain causes us to betray ourselves.

Our emotional pain is really a signal from our “inner knowing,” our “true selves,” that there is something important missing in our lives. When we run away from the pain, we abandon ourselves.

“While plenty of pain can be inflicted upon you,”

says Dr. DiGangi,

“this is, for example, what interpersonal assaults and abuse are—a significant amount of pain in your life comes when you abandon yourself. This pain of self-betrayal—the times when you create pain by abandoning or forsaking yourself—is what I call self-division.”

  • Self-division is so common we often don’t recognize it when we are doing it.

For example, do you ever:

  • promise you’ll do something that is good for yourself, but then don’t?
  • swear to set and hold a boundary, but don’t follow through?
  • want to connect with someone you’re interested in, but withdraw instead?
  • tell yourself that you will speak your truth, but remain silent?
  • find you are hurt by what someone says or does, but pretend that you are fine?
  • react with hurt or anger, blame the other person, but still feel disempowered?
  • Power often gets a bad rap, but real power is good for everyone.

“The word power often carries a sinister connotation,”

says Dr. DiGangi.

“Far too often we are made aware of traumatizing situations where someone is overcontrolling, rejecting, or abusive, and we think of that as a kind of power. It is not. If someone uses their higher-status position to force others to behave in certain ways, this behavioral phenomenon is more accurately called manipulation or coercion.”

Systems scientist and President of the Center for Partnership Studies, Dr. Riane Eisler, first presented her research findings on the partnership-domination continuum in her book, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future.  Dr. Eisler said,

“The dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy—the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The partnership model is based on the principle of linking rather than ranking.”

Power in a domination system is very different from power in a partnership system. Domination power is harmful to many. Partnership power is good for all.

  • Power associated with men is often mistakenly equated with domination, manipulation, or coercion.

It is true that males have a long history of domination, manipulation, and coercion. Historian, Ruth Ben-Ghiat describes numerous examples in her book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present. She says,

“Ours in the age of authoritarian rulers: self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robing their people of truth, treasure, and the protections of democracy.”

She cites numerous examples including Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany: Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy; Victor Orban, Hungarian Prime Minister; Vladimir Putin, President of Russia; Donald J. Trump, former President of the United States.

Riane Eisler was one of the first scholars that supported women’s liberation and who  also recognized that men could express a different kind of power than that expressed through domination.

“For millennia men have fought wars and the Blade has been a male symbol. Moreover, obviously there were both men and women in the prehistoric societies where the power to give and nurture, which the Chalice symbolizes, was supreme.”

Eisler concludes,

“The underlying problem is not men as a sex. The root of the problem lies in a social system in which the power of the Blade is idealized—in which both men and women are taught to equate true masculinity with violence and dominance and to see men who do not conform to this ideal as “too soft” or “effeminate.”

The 5 Codes For Connecting With Our Personal Emotional Power

            David Whyte brilliantly described the three marriages and the reality that we often neglect the personal marriage as we focus on our work and love lives. Dr. DiGangi recognizes that our success in our love lives and our work lives is limited if we are not successful in addressing emotional power in our personal lives. In her book, she offers guidance for personal power in the following five codes:

            Code 1: Expand Your Emotional Power—How to transform your emotional pain into emotional power.

            Code 2: Build Your Power Pattern—How to harness the brain’s pattern-detection abilities.

            Code 3: Harness Your Emotional Energetics—How to work with your deepest emotions in the toughest situations.

            Code 4: Master Uncertainty—How to stay emotionally powerful in the energy of uncertainty.

            Code 5: Rewrite Your Source Code—How childhood directs the way you lead your life and what to do about it.

            The last three codes offer guidance for improving our work and love lives.

The Three Codes for Connecting to Others

            Code 6: Quit Commanding—How to release ineffective command-and-control styles of leading.

            Code 7: Unleash Your Magnetism—How to create your most effortless leadership.

            Code 8: Build a Relationship from the Future—How to design your most powerful relationships at work and at home.

            In future articles I will go into more depth with these issues and describe how I use Dr. DiGgangi’s practices in my own work.

            You can learn more about Dr. Julia DiGangi and her work here:

            You can learn more about my own work here:

            You can subscribe to my free newsletter for updates and articles here:

            You can learn more about our world-wide movement to heal men and their families and tip the balance from domination to partnership here:

The post The Neuroscience of Emotional Power: Embracing Your Passion for Relationships, Work, and Self appeared first on MenAlive.

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