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Navigating life’s shifts proves challenging, often stirring deep emotions and uncertainties. This initial passage delves into the complexities inherent in life transitions, unraveling the psychological and emotional layers that make these periods particularly daunting. From the fear of the unknown to the upheaval of comfort zones, we explore the multifaceted reasons behind the inherent difficulty of life’s inevitable changes.

Stick around, and together we’ll uncover the intricate tapestry of factors that make life transitions such formidable experiences, and perhaps, in understanding them, you’ll find the strength to let go of the familiar and boldly step into the new.

Understanding Life Transitions

Image of a thoughtful young male in a contemplative pose, reflecting on his life during a transition phase, surrounded by symbolic representations of setting life goals, such as a vision board or a notepad with plans, highlighting determination and personal growth.While life transitions are an inevitable part of our journey, understanding them can significantly ease the stress they bring. Major life transitions, whether it’s embarking on a new career, moving to a different city, or enduring a personal loss, are profound moments that can shape your path. They demand that you adjust to a new normal, which can be both daunting and invigorating.

You’re not alone in feeling the weight of these changes. It’s natural to experience a mix of emotions—uncertainty, excitement, fear, and hope. Coping with this whirlwind requires you to acknowledge and normalize these feelings. Practice mindfulness to stay grounded and reframe challenges positively, seeing them as opportunities for personal growth.

If you find the burden too heavy and it disrupts your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek help. There’s strength in recognizing when you need support, and a therapist can offer guidance tailored to your unique situation.

Navigating the tides of change, the fear of uncertainty often looms large, challenging you to find your footing amidst unknown outcomes. Life transitions require you to cope with life’s new rhythms and potentially develop new routines.

It’s essential to recognize the impermanence of these shifts, understanding that the discomfort is a temporary phase. Practice radical acceptance; it empowers you to acknowledge unchangeable circumstances, helping to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.

Your language molds your mindset, so choose words that support growth and resilience. Remember, transitions aren’t linear; they demand flexibility and patience.

If you’re struggling, it’s not only okay but wise to seek professional help. Cultivating coping skills isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving in service to others and yourself.

Uncertainty’s Psychological Impact

Amidst life transitions, the fear of uncertainty often grips your mind, potentially leading to significant stress and anxiety. This fear triggers a survival instinct, a resistance to change, and a yearning for stability. As you navigate these shifts, remember that uncertainty’s psychological impact is a natural response. It’s crucial to develop coping mechanisms—creating awareness, normalizing your emotions, and accepting uncertainty as part of the journey.

Transitions take time, and as you serve others, encourage them to embrace this non-linear path. Assist them in recognizing that feeling stuck is a common experience during change. By unlearning unhelpful thought patterns and reactions, you empower yourself and others to better manage mental health and adapt to new circumstances with resilience and hope.

Disruption of Routine

Adjusting to a new routine requires considerable energy and effort. The stability and support that once came from a consistent schedule may seem lost. Yet, it’s during these times that creating a new routine becomes essential. By establishing new patterns, you can regain a semblance of control and help mitigate the turmoil of change.

As someone dedicated to serving others, remember that these transitions aren’t insurmountable. You can leverage your resilience and adaptability to navigate through these periods. It’s about taking it one step at a time, recognizing the growth that comes from challenge, and supporting those around you who might also be struggling with similar disruptions. Together, you can rebuild routines that provide peace and a renewed sense of purpose.

Emotional Responses

Image depicting a young girl in a moment of reflection, symbolizing her journey through a transition phase, with a contemplative expression that captures both the challenges and personal growth associated with significant life changes.

As you face life transitions, you’re likely to encounter a whirlwind of emotions, including the uncertainty that accompanies new beginnings.

You may grapple with grief and a sense of loss as you let go of the old and embrace the new.

Acknowledging these feelings as natural parts of the process can help you navigate through this turbulent period with greater resilience.

Facing life transitions, you’ll likely encounter a whirlwind of emotions, from anxiety to excitement, signaling the importance of recognizing and managing these responses. As you navigate uncertainty, acknowledge the natural fear and stress that arise. These feelings are normal, and allowing yourself to experience them can actually help us process change more effectively.

To steady yourself amid the flux, practice mindfulness and positivity, which can reframe your perspective and enhance emotional awareness.

Lean on those who’ve successfully managed similar life transitions for support and insight. Your existing coping strategies and daily routines also offer a sense of stability and control.

If you find the emotional toll impeding your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, as it can be pivotal in guiding you through this uncertain journey.

Grief and Loss

Grief and loss, with their profound emotional impacts, often accompany life’s major transitions, leaving you to navigate a complex array of feelings such as sadness, anger, and confusion.

When you face the loss of a loved one or a significant change, it’s not just about adapting to a new reality; it’s also about coping with a profound emotional upheaval.

As someone who seeks to serve others, you understand the importance of expressing these emotions and seeking support. Whether you’re comforting a family member or guiding someone through their grief, your role is to help make the journey through loss a transformative one.

Encouraging them to find new meaning and strength in the midst of sorrow is a delicate but essential part of service and healing.

Identity and Self-Perception

As you face life transitions, your self-awareness may undergo a transformation. You’ll find that your roles and responsibilities might shift, challenging how you’ve traditionally seen yourself.

Understanding these changes is key to adapting and maintaining a positive self-perception.

Redefining Self-Image

Often during life transitions, you’ll find yourself reevaluating and reshaping your self-image as you adapt to new roles and environments. Whether it’s a career change, moving to a new city, or even the loss of a loved one, these common transitions can prompt you to question who you’re and what you stand for.

Redefining self-image isn’t just about adjusting to the external shifts; it’s also about embracing the internal transformations that accompany your journey.

Embrace this period of change by practicing radical acceptance. Understand your self-perception is evolving, and that’s okay. Seek support through therapy or life coaching if you need it.

Roles and Responsibilities Shift

While redefining your self-image, you’ll also encounter shifts in roles and responsibilities that challenge your identity and how others see you. Life transitions, such as becoming a caregiver after the loss of a loved one, taking on a new job, or facing job loss, require you to adapt to new expectations and redefine your sense of self.

These adjustments can be taxing, stirring up conflicting emotions as you navigate your evolving identity.

It’s crucial to seek support and perhaps professional guidance to manage these changes. Embrace this opportunity to serve others and grow, but don’t lose sight of reevaluating your personal values and priorities.

Coping Strategies

Navigating life’s changes, you can anchor yourself by seeking out friends and family for social support.

Establishing new routines will give you a sense of control and normalcy amidst the chaos.

You’ll also benefit from practicing mindfulness techniques, which can help manage stress and keep you grounded in the present moment.

Seek Social Support

During life transitions, it’s crucial to lean on your network of friends, family, and support groups for emotional backing and advice. Sharing your journey with trusted individuals helps you feel understood and less alone, especially during times of upheaval like the loss of a loved one.

It’s a natural time to seek connection, so don’t hesitate to join communities or online forums that align with your current experiences. Engage in social activities and rediscover hobbies to maintain vital social support.

Establish New Routines

As you lean on others for support, it’s also crucial to craft new routines that anchor your days and offer a fresh sense of order.

  • Establishing new routines during life transitions, whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the birth of a child, can provide the stability you need.
  • Start by structuring your day with intentional practices, like morning meditation or evening walks, to foster predictability amidst change.
  • Incorporate self-care to ease stress and encourage well-being.
  • Set small, achievable goals within your routine for a sense of progress.

And remember, flexibility is key—adjust routines as needed to adapt to your evolving circumstances, ensuring you maintain control during these transformative times. Your service to others begins with taking good care of yourself.

Practice Mindfulness Techniques

Incorporating mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and meditation into your daily life can be a powerful tool for managing the stress of life transitions.

As you experience life transitions, taking the time to practice mindfulness techniques can be immensely beneficial. It helps you stay present, acknowledging and accepting the swirl of emotions that come with change. Engaging in activities like meditation or body scans grounds you, reducing anxiety and promoting emotional regulation.

By making mindfulness a part of your routine, you bring focused attention to your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This intentional practice fosters a sense of peace and clarity, enabling you to serve others with compassion and resilience during times of change.

Seeking Support Systems

As you navigate life’s changes, it’s crucial to build a solid social network. You’re not alone, and reaching out to friends and family can provide the emotional scaffolding you need during tough times.

If you find the going gets too tough, don’t hesitate to access professional help to guide you through your transition.

Building Social Networks

Building robust social networks is crucial when navigating life’s transitions. It provides you with a safety net of support and understanding, making these transitions more bearable. Whether you’re grappling with the loss of a loved one or embarking on a new career, the people around you can make a significant difference.

To build these networks, it’s important to take the next step and actively engage with friends, family, colleagues, or join community groups that resonate with your situation. Reach out for a chat, meet up for coffee, or participate in activities that align with your interests. By doing so, you’re not just expanding your circle; you’re also crafting a community that can uplift you, share wisdom, and offer a compassionate ear when you need it most.

Accessing Professional Help

While establishing a strong social network is a solid step, there may come a point where you need to seek out professional help to navigate the complexities of significant life changes. Life coaches with special knowledge provides excellent help. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a career shift, or another of the myriad life transitions people experience, accessing professional help can provide a structured way to make sense of your emotions and develop strategies to manage stress and anxiety.

Professional guidance often offers a fresh perspective, enabling you to find balance and regain control during upheaval. Don’t hesitate to make that decision for yourself; it’s a sign of strength to acknowledge when you need support and take action to access it.

Embracing Change

Embracing change offers a unique opportunity for personal growth, urging you to adapt and learn in the face of new circumstances. Life is a series of transitions, each presenting its own challenges and opportunities to serve others and better oneself. When you’re navigating the loss of a loved one or any significant life shift, embracing change becomes essential to moving forward.

In the midst of these transitions, it’s crucial to find activities that ground you and help reduce stress. This could mean dedicating time to physical exercise or seeking solace in the company of friends. Remember, the wave of emotions you’re experiencing is temporary, and new, more hopeful feelings will emerge as you continue on your journey.

Adapting your mindset is key to embracing change. Practice radical acceptance and work on reframing any negative thoughts. Whether a transition is anticipated or sudden, chosen or thrust upon you, it involves an intricate dance of internal and external shifts. By embracing change, you’re not just surviving; you’re actively learning how to thrive within a new reality, all while contributing to the lives of others through your resilience and compassion.


You’ve peered into why transitions challenge you so much. It’s the uncertainty, the break in routine, and the emotional whirlwind that make you hesitate. Remember though, with these shifts come growth and newfound strength.

Lean on your support system, employ your coping strategies, and gradually, you’ll find yourself not just enduring change, but embracing it. After all, it’s through these very transitions that you truly discover your resilience and capacity for renewal.

What role does attention play in the difficulty of life transitions?

Attention plays a crucial role because during life transitions, we must navigate new information and unfamiliar situations, which requires significant cognitive effort. Our focus can become scattered or overwhelmed by change, making it harder to adapt and maintain productivity and emotional well-being.

How does the concept of an anchor relate to the challenge of life transitions?

An anchor represents stability or familiarity in our lives. During transitions, these anchors—whether they are routines, relationships, or environments—are often disrupted or lost entirely. This loss can leave individuals feeling untethered and insecure, which contributes to the difficulty in adjusting to new circumstances.

In what way does the metaphor of a tide illustrate the struggle with life transitions?

Just like tides that ebb and flow unpredictably, life transitions can be full of uncertainties and fluctuating emotions. The unpredictable nature of change can be overwhelming, making it tough for people to feel in control and move forward confidently with their lives.

Why is it important to manage attention effectively during life transitions?

Effective management of attention helps mitigate feelings of chaos and overwhelm. By focusing on one aspect of the transition at a time or using strategies such as mindfulness or prioritization, individuals can reduce anxiety and increase their capacity to cope with change constructively.

What strategies can help individuals create new anchors during times of transition?

Individuals might establish new anchors by developing consistent routines, forming supportive relationships in their new environment, identifying personal values that remain constant regardless of circumstance, or maintaining certain habits from their previous situation to foster continuity amidst change.

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By: klemen
Title: Why Are Life Transitions so Hard – Deciphering the Struggle of Life Transitions
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Published Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2024 20:23:30 +0000

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Mens Health

The Hazards and Blessings of Being Male: Embracing the Seven Challenges For a Successful Life

Captura de pantalla 2024 05 17 a las 20.33.26

Captura de pantalla 2024 05 17 a las 20.33.26 1
Photo by: Alexander Grey |

Although there have been infinite varieties of life forms that have evolved on Earth in the last 4 billion years, two life forms that are our male and female ancestors evolved a billion years ago. Here’s how this first sexual experience occurred according to cosmologist Dr. Brian Swimme and historian Dr. Thomas Berry in their book, The Universe Story.

The first male organism—they call him Tristan—and the first female organism—they call her Iseult—began life in the ancient oceans. Swimme and Berry describe their chance encounter this way:

“They were cast into the marine adventure, with its traumas of starvation and of predation. Able to nourish themselves but no longer capable of dividing into daughter cells, such primal living beings made their way through life until an almost certain death ended their 3-billion-year lineage.

A slight, an ever so slight, chance existed that a Tristan cell would come upon a corresponding Iseult cell.They would brush against each other, a contact similar to so many trillions of other encounters in their oceanic adventure. But with this one, something new would awaken. Something unsuspected and powerful and intelligent, as if they had drunk a magical elixir, would enter the flow of electricity through each organism.

Suddenly the very chemistry of their cell membranes would begin to change. Interactions evoked by newly functioning segments of her DNA would restructure the molecular web of Iseult’s skin, so that an act she had never experienced or planned for would begin to take place—Tristan entering her cell wholly.”

Of course no humans were there to record this original encounter, but we all have origin stories and this one resonates with me. Dates are never exact and change as more information is gathered. Here are some additional dates I found important in The Universe Story timeline:

  • 12 billion years ago, the universe begins.
  • 4 billion years ago life first emerges.
  • 1 billion years ago sexual reproduction evolves.
  • 216 million years ago the first mammals appear.
  • 30 million years ago the first apes inhabit the earth.
  • 2.6 million years ago the first humans appeared.
  • 200,000 years ago Archaic Homo sapiens evolved.
  • 10,600 years ago first settlements in the Middle East emerged and wheat and barley were cultivated.

Needless to say, we have a long evolutionary history to embrace. In their book, Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain, Douglas T. Kenrick, PhD and David E. Lundberg-Kenrick describe seven evolutionary challenges we must all face and embrace. They offer a visual summary as a revision of Maslow’s original Hierarchy of Human Needs which they call The New Pyramid of Human Motives:


The Seven Challenges for a Successful Life

            During the billion years of life, all organisms must embrace these challenges and they are particularly relevant beginning with our mammalian history. In their book, the Kenricks ask, “What are the fundamental problems of human existence?” They go on to share the results of their research.

“Together with a large team of researchers at more than 30 universities on five continents, we have been investigating the universal motivations faced by human beings around the globe.”

Here is a summary of their findings:

  • Survive.

We must meet our basic physiological needs for shelter from the elements,

water, and food.

  • Protect yourself from attackers and plunderers.

Given the scarcity of resources and the ever-present possibility of starvation, there has always been competition among different groups (most often the male members) for precious real estate and resources (including access to females).

  • Make and keep friends.

As the Kenricks remind us. “Our ancestors were not rugged individualists.

They need to band together not only to protect themselves from bands of

marauding bad guys but also to accomplish most of the tasks of everyday life.”

  • Get some respect.

Some people have always been more resourceful and clever than others and

some were more willing to bravely defend their groups against armed marauders.

Those resourceful and courageous individuals won higher status and gained

greater respect.

  • Find a mate.

“From the perspective of evolution by natural selection,” say the Kenricks, “this

step is essential. Every one of our ancestors managed to attract at least one

person who wanted to make with them. Not everybody in the ancient world got

to reproduce, though, and a reasonable percentage of men went unmated.” This

fact, is of major importance when understanding male desires, fears, and


  • Hang on to that mate.

From an evolutionary perspective, we not only have to find a mate who will have

sex with us, but we need to hold on to our mate long enough to have a child and

raise the child to maturity, so they can find a mate and continue the process.

  • Care for your family members.

Unlike other animals, human males are much more involved with raising children, since human children require long-term care before they reach reproductive age.

Males and Females Are Alike and Also Different

Males and females are alike in that they must both successfully meet the seven challenges noted above. However, there are also significant evolutionary differences. These differences first came home to me when I first met psychologist David M. Buss and read his book, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating.

“If mating desires and other features of human psychology are products of our evolutionary history,” says Dr. Buss, “they should be found universally, not just in the United States.”

To test his theories, he conducted a five-year study working with collaborators from thirty-seven cultures located on six continents and five islands. All major racial groups, religious groups, and ethnic groups were represented. In all, his research team surveyed 10,047 persons world-wide.

Dr. Buss concluded that there are actually two human natures, one male, the other female. What do women really want? Buss found that the top three qualities that women look for in men are exactly the same as those things that men look for in women: Intelligence, kindness, and love. Then, what women want diverges from what men want.

“Women then look at a man’s ability to protect her and her children, his capacity to provide, and his willingness to make commitment to a relationship,” says Buss.

What do men really want?

“A man is drawn to youth and beauty,”

says Buss.

“This interest is not just a modern desire driven by advertising and male desire to control women [though advertisers take advantage of our evolutionary-driven desires]. It is a universal desire based on evolutionary pressures for reproductive success. Men who mated with women who were incapable of bearing children left no ancestors. Every man alive today is descended from men who did not make that mistake. Worldwide, men are drawn to younger women.”

Note: Just because we have these evolutionary-based desires does not mean we must act on them, that they are good for us, or will make us, or the partners we desire, happy. It also does not mean they are hard-wired into our biological makeup and can’t be changed. It does mean that we must take seriously our evolutionary-based desires and listen to the ancient “whisperings within” that pull us in certain directions.

The Hazards and Blessings of Gender-Specific Health

The ancient Roman philosopher, Virgil offers a simple truth to consider.

“The greatest wealth is health.”

A modern American medical doctor, Marianne J. Legato, M.D., world-renowned cardiologist and founder of The Foundation For Gender-Specific Medicine, says,

“The premature death of men is the most important—and neglected—health issue of our time.”

Although human males, as a group, occupy more positions of power in government and business than women, it has come at a price. This was first brought home to me by psychologist Herb Goldberg, in his book 1976, The Hazards of Being Male.

“The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power. He is out of touch with his emotions and his body. He is playing by the rules of the male game plan and with lemming-like purpose he is destroying himself—emotionally, psychologically and physically.”

In recent years we have learned a lot more about the realities of being male.

“If it’s true that men rule the world, it comes at a heavy cost,”

says Dr. Legato.

“From conception until death, men are inherently more fragile and vulnerable than women. In virtually every society today, men die first.”

Dr. Legato offers the following facts of life:

  • The male fetus is less likely to survive the womb than the female.
  • Boys are six weeks behind in developmental maturity at birth compared to girls.
  • Men have four times the developmental disabilities of females.
  • Men suffer more severely than women from seven of the ten most common infections that human experience [Including Covid-19].
  • Men are likely to experience the first ravages of coronary artery disease in their mid-thirties, a full 15 or 20 years before women.
  • Twice as many men die of heart disease, the leading cause of all deaths, than do women.
  • Men die by suicide 4 times more than women.
  • Murder and homicide are among the top four killers of men from the time they are born until heart disease and cancers begin to claim those who survive into middle age.

Accepting the realities of our own inherent weakness and vulnerabilities instead of trying to pretend we are masters of the universe is the first step we just take to begin our own healing and recovery.

I have been writing a series of articles on the Future of Men’s Mental Health. In Part 3, “Gender-Specific Healing and Man Therapy,” I explore my own healing journey and issues that address the unique problems faced by men and how the emerging field of Gender-Specific Healing and Men’s Health is a key to the future of health care. If you’d like more information about upcoming trainings, drop me an email to and put “Gender-Specific Health Training” in the subject line.

The post The Hazards and Blessings of Being Male: Embracing the Seven Challenges For a Successful Life appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: The Hazards and Blessings of Being Male: Embracing the Seven Challenges For a Successful Life
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 02:41:58 +0000

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Mens Health

The James Bond Workout

James Bond Workout 2

Illustration titled "The James Bond Workout" depicting six exercises: 20 slow push-ups, straight leg lifts, toe touches, chair dips, deep breathing, culminating in a hot and cold shower.

When you have a license to kill, you’ve got to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

So what did James Bond do for his workout? 

From the James Bond novels, we know that 007 liked to do all sorts of physical activities that could count as exercise: boxing, judo, swimming, and skiing. He was also a golfer, so he got some activity in that way.

As a Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve, Bond likely incorporated some of the calisthenics he learned from the military into his workout routine. It’s possible that he even drew inspiration from the Cold War HIIT workout, 5BX. 

You can see these influences in the workout 007 does in From Russia With Love. In that novel (one of the 5 best books in the Bond canon), Fleming describes a short calisthenics routine that his secret agent does that’s capped off with a “James Bond shower”:

There was only one way to deal with boredom — kick oneself out of it. Bond went down on his hands and did twenty slow press-ups, lingering over each one so that his muscles had no rest. When his arms could stand the pain no longer, he rolled over on his back and, with his hands at his sides, did the straight leg-lift until his stomach muscles screamed. He got to his feet and, after touching his toes twenty times, went over to arm and chest exercises combined with deep breathing until he was dizzy. Panting with the exertion, he went into the big white-tiled bathroom and stood in the glass shower cabinet under very hot and then cold hissing water for five minutes. 

A pretty quick and straightforward bodyweight workout, that we’ve illustrated for reference above. With one adaptation: Bond scholars and aficionados have never figured out exactly what Fleming meant by “arm and chest exercises.” We substituted chair dips; they work both the arms and chest. You can imagine in your own arm and chest exercise if you’d like. Performing that portion of the workout, and all the rest of them, in a tux with a pistol and martini glass on hand is optional, but highly encouraged if you’re an operative training to face the unique challenges of international espionage. 

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: The James Bond Workout
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Published Date: Thu, 16 May 2024 17:20:27 +0000

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Man or Bear: What Evolutionary Science Can Tell Us About Male Violence and How to Stay Safe

Captura de pantalla 2024 05 08 a las 17.49.44

Captura de pantalla 2024 05 08 a las 17.49.44 1
Photo by: Mark Basarab /

Have you been following the discussion that began with a question to a small group of women: If you were alone in the woods, would you rather encounter a bear or a man? The great majority of the women answered, “a bear” and explained that they would feel safer encountering a bear in the forest than a man they didn’t know. The hypothetical question has sparked a broader discussion about why women fear men.

I’d like to share my own experiences. I will start by laying my cards on the table so you know my biases from the outset:

  • I have been a man all my life which now totals 80 years.
  • I was born in New York City, grew up in Los Angeles, and have lived in cities most of my life where I never encountered a bear or any other wild animal.
  • I am a psychotherapist, author of 17 books about men and their relationships, and have worked with what many consider “dangerous men” in jails, prisons, and treatment centers.
  • In 1991 my wife and I moved out of the city, bought land in the hills of Mendocino County outside a small town of Willits, California and I had my first encounter with wild animals including several bears.

The impetus for our move to the country began when I was diagnosed with a rare adrenal tumor which kills most people before they know they have it. Luckily, I didn’t die. My doctor made the diagnosis—a pheochromocytoma. I had emergency surgery and the tumor was removed.

When I asked the doctors what caused me to get a tumor, they didn’t know. “Maybe genetics, maybe bad luck, who knows?” they told me. Well, I believe we all have an inner healer who does know. I asked and the answer I got was clear and concise:

Inner Healer to Jed: Adrenal tumor, adrenaline! Don’t you get it? You’ve living in stressful environments for way too long. You have to slow down.

Jed to Inner Healer: I have slowed down. I was born to New York, pretty high-stressed place. We moved to Los Angeles where I grew up and went to school, a lower stress place. Now we live in Mellow Marin County. I’ve been slowing down, really I have.

Inner Healer to Jed: I do hear you. You have slowed down, New York, Los Angeles, Marin. You’ve gotten your stress score down from 100 to an 88. But you have to get it down to a 9.

Jed to Inner Healer: You’ve got to be kidding me, a 9! I’d have to change my whole life!!!

Inner Healer to Jed: Yep.

So, we found a little cabin on 22 acres of land and moved in and I planned to relax more. It was quiet and peaceful and the neighbors were nice. But the truth was, everything scared me. It was too quiet. After we had been there a month and I was sitting on a ridge overlooking a valley, I heard a very faint sound. So soft, I wasn’t even sure it was there. I finally realized that what I was hearing was the sound of my eye lashes blinking. I was used to the sounds of a big city. It was difficult to think with only the sounds of silence to keep me company.

            What really scared me, though, were the animal sounds I would hear at night. I was determined to follow my inner healer’s advice and learn to slow down and relax. I knew I needed to settle into my new surroundings. There was  a deck at the end of our property where I often went to think about my future. I decided I would learn to address my anxieties and fears by sleeping outside every night during the first summer we were there.

Each night after dinner, I would walk in the dark from our house to the deck, about a ten-minute walk, where I would spend the night. I walked first with a flashlight, then stop, turn it off, and listen to the night sounds. I would hear the bugs, birds, and small animals moving through the brush. I would snuggle up in my sleeping bag and gradually I got used to the night sounds and got to know the creatures that lived in my new neighborhood in the woods.

One morning as I was just waking up I saw a large animal coming my way on a narrow trail that led away from my deck where I slept. At first I didn’t know what it was. It was bigger than a big dog but walked differently. It didn’t take me long to realize that a large black bear was walking towards me.

My mouth went dry, my heart began to pound. I didn’t know what to do. Should I yell and try and scare him away? Should I run and hide? I had no idea. What I finally did was to start talking very fast: “Ah…bear…I’m Jed, I don’t have anything you would want to eat, including me, I know this is your home, I just moved here, I really want to be a good neighbor, please don’t hurt me, I…”

I ran out of words and the bear stopped a hundred feet from me. I looked at him (or her? I had no idea) and he looked at me. And I wondered whether the next thing would be a bear at my throat. Instead, he turned around and walked back down the path.

It was a strange rite of passage for this city boy. I felt like he had decided that I was definitely a little strange but I was OK. He came back periodically when I wasn’t there. I could tell because he marked his territory by scratching marks on the posts of my deck. I had a number of encounters with bears, a few real scary one when we encountered a mamma bear with her cubs and she reared up on her hind legs and barked her cubs up a three. I bowed low and slowly backed away. I had a healthy respect for bears and other wild animals but we got to know each other.

Not so, when I had my first encounter with a strange man. One morning I was walking on my property and suddenly a strange man turned the corner on the trail. I yelled, turned around and ran. I looked over my shoulder to see if he was chasing me and realized that he was running away, looking over his shoulder to see if I was chasing him.

We both stopped running and slowly approached each other cautiously. I told him I owned this property and told me he was visiting neighbors and had gone for a walk and gotten lost the night before. He had slept out all night and was trying to find his way back when he ran into me. I drove him back to the neighbors who saw me as a hero for finding their friend and we shared stories about our encounters with bears and men.

What Evolutionary Science Can Teach Us About Bears and Men and How to Stay Safe

We can’t understand bears, men, or how to be safe unless we know something about evolutionary science. In their book The Universe Story, cosmologist Dr. Brian Swimme and historian Dr. Thomas Berry, share our evolutionary history. Here are a few key players and the dates they joined the party:

  • 12 billion years ago, the universe began with a bang.
  • 4 billion years ago life first emerged.
  • 216 million years ago the first mammals appeared.
  • 55 million years ago the first bear-like animals evolved.
  • 2.6 million years ago the first humans, Homo habilis, walked the earth.

In a recent book, Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain, evolutionary psychologists Douglas T. Kenrick and David E. Lunberg-Kenrick, detail the seven fundamental problems the humans have faced since we arrived. We have to:

  1. Survive by meeting our basic needs for water, food, and shelter.
  2. Protect ourselves from attackers and plunderers.
  3. Make and keep friends.
  4. Gain status and respect from our fellow tribal members.
  5. Find a mate.
  6. Hang on to that mate.
  7. Focus on family and raise good children.

What they say about basic challenges number 1 and 2, can help us better understand how to stay safe in today’s world. The first step is clear. We must get what we need to survive or our story ends here. All our direct ancestors survived and completed all seven steps.

They go on to talk about the reality that in our evolutionary past, as well as in modern times, we have a lot more to fear from men than we do from wild animals. In the Bronx Zoo, there is a classic sign on one exhibit that advertised, “World’s Most Dangerous Predator.” Above the sign was a mirror.

            Humans truly are a dangerous species and the danger is most commonly coming from men. Whether you are venturing into the remote unexplored jungles where modern hunter-gatherers live or looking at death rates from our evolutionary past, Dr. Kenrick and other evolutionary-informed scientists have found that men are the more violent half of humanity.

“The odds that a stranger is a potential threat to your physical safety are many times higher if that stranger is a male. They are especially high if he is a young adult male and if he is with a group of other young adult males.”

So, it is natural that women, and men, would be more fearful of meeting an unknown man in the woods than a bear. But the fact that our modern brains still have the old wiring from our evolutionary past, does not mean that we should be afraid of all bears or all men. As I learned, we are all safer when we learn about the others who we will encounter in our lives.

I learned to get comfortable with the bears who lived in my neighborhood. I also learned I could talk to the bears, let them know I was no threat, and I imagined they would listen. I found out I could overcome my immediate reaction to flee or fight when confronted by an unknown male. I could stop and realize we were both afraid of each other and taking time to calm down and talk helped us both connect in a positive way.

What I have learned from evolutionary science is that most wild animals can be our friends and so can most men. The way to be safer in the world is to connect more deeply with ourselves, each other, and this beautiful planet we all share.

            One more point. Humans have certainly done our evolutionary job well in populating the world. We don’t need more and more people, but we could certainly use more wisdom from our animal elders. As Thomas Berry reminds us,

“We never knew enough. Nor were we sufficiently intimate with all our cousins in the great family of the earth. Nor could we listen to the various creatures of the earth, each telling its own story. The time has now come, however, when we will listen or we will die.”

I have worked with a lot of dangerous and violent men in my life. I agree with the world of psychologist James Hollis. “Men’s lives are violent because their souls have been violated.” I invite those interested to check out our Moonshot for Mankind.

The post Man or Bear: What Evolutionary Science Can Tell Us About Male Violence and How to Stay Safe appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: Man or Bear: What Evolutionary Science Can Tell Us About Male Violence and How to Stay Safe
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Published Date: Wed, 08 May 2024 23:46:04 +0000

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