The Need For Men To Have ‘Sparring Partners’

Episode #676

Is your wife testing your boundaries?

Are you aware of your emotional triggers? 

Being aware of your triggers empowers you to take control of your emotional responses, understand yourself better, and improve your communication with your partner. 

In this episode, we’ll learn the impact of having sparring partners in life and what you can do to be comfortable about showing up as your authentic self.

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Tim Matthews  00:57

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Powerful Man Show. I am your host, Tim Matthews, with my co-host Mark – The Wizard Handler. How you doing, brother?

Mark 01:11

I’m good, Tim. Good to see you. How are you doing?

Tim Matthews  01:14

I’m doing well, doing well. Really enjoyed our last episode – The Innate Gift That All Men Should Tap Into. I loved it. You shared a lot of wisdom. Again, thank you for being here. So I’m going to dive in if that’s okay with you.

So I was leading Tam office hours yesterday. So for those of you that don’t know what it is, basically every week we do an office hours for everybody is going through the activation method. It’s typically hosted by myself, Doug Arthur or our master coach, Mr. Hainsworth over here. It’s basically an opportunity for all the men across all the different activation method groups to come together and get some coaching from, like I said myself, Doug Arthur or Mr. Hainsworth, just for those of you that don’t know.

Basically we cap the number of men in an activation method at nine. Horrible business model, as Doug likes to say. But we have found that if we do more than nine, the guys just can’t get the level of attention they need. So we like to cap it there so we can ensure the men and get the result and really set them up for success. Time office is a great way for all the guys from different groups to come together, meet one another and really leverage the collective brain power.

So I was on there yesterday, there was an amazing man on the call. Mr. Moody is what I’m going to call him. That’s his surname. I’m not going to give away his full name, his first name to keep it anonymous, but Mr. Moody was his name. What is his name rather? Now we’re talking about triggers, right? How when typically if your wife or your partner comes at you and she says something, it’s quite easy for you to get triggered.

And we spoke about the idea of, hey, Mark, if I say to you, look, you’re purple, it’s not going to bother you, is it? Because you know it’s not true. You know you’re not purple. Whereas if your wife or your partner says to you, you never follow through and you feel yourself, your stomach tighten and you feel yourself react, and, oh, that’s because of something in what she said that rings true for you. You find some truth in it, you have become triggered.

So we’re talking about this concept. Mr. Moody started to talk about how as an athlete so he spent years as an athlete and also years in the Marine Corps. And one of the things he spoke about was the need for him as an athlete to train to a level that was harder than the performance, right? So he’s a boxer. So he was saying, hey, I want to train from a fight to a level that’s going to be more intense than the fights. I want to step in the ring.

It’s easier, right? So I’d push myself in training. I’d do heavy sessions. I’d learn the different types of jabs. I’d be sparring. I’d figure it out, right? So when I step in the ring, like I said, things are easier. And he started to draw parallels between how he would train as an athlete in the Marine Corps and being triggered by his partner. And he came up with this concept of needing spiring partners.

And he looked around the car and he said, guys, I want to invite you up. I want some aspiring partners. I want to get together with other men, and I want to put myself in a position where we kind of go at each other a little bit, and I want to feel myself get triggered. And I want to be able to master this so that when I’m at home in a situation with my wife and she triggers me, I’ve already been training in a way that’s harder and more intense than this situation here, and I can just handle it easily.

I thought it was genius. It was great. And it reminded me of a lot of the grounded masculinity work that we take the guys through and the need for them to retrain the nervous system. Like when they fall into beer, the nervous system responds in a certain way that’s in alignment with them reacting, right. The stomach tightens, certain parts of the brain close off, things happen in their system, and it literally shuts down their ability to reason. That sex logic.

Whereas if they’re able to stay connected in their body and to their body and remain grounded, then they remain in a place of engaged indifference is what we often call it, right? And they’re able to hold firm or be playful or whatever it may be in a way that’s natural to them. And as we’re talking this through, it really got me thinking. When we’re thinking about aspiring partners, I encouraged the guys to do it and I said, listen, guys, you really should be taking up Mr. Moody’s offer here, because as men, it’s incredibly important for us to get used to giving and receiving very real and crucial feedback to and from one another.

And it’s something that’s lacking massively in society, right? Everyone’s kind of can be a bit soft. So if that means you guys get together and you share your experience of one another and you be brutally honest and you say, hey, Mr. Moody, honestly, when you show up and you pull that face when I’m talking to you honestly, it makes me feel like I don’t trust you. And honestly, it makes me think you’re a bit of a fraud and that you’re a liar.

It comes from a great place. It’s not you’re not attacking the person’s character, you’re just sharing your experience of them and you’re providing them with some very honest feedback because at the end of the day, we cannot see our own blind spots. And the ability for another man to say that to another man and for the other guy to be able to receive it in my mind goes to that point of having aspiring partner goes to the point of being able to stand your ground sit with it, sit with the trigger get used to it. Get used to that discomfort. And it’s going to give you — it’s a way in which we could train ourselves to a standard that’s harder in training than in the actual performance of handling a shit test from your wife. So what’s your take on that? What are your thoughts?

Mark 07:36

There’s a couple of things that come up for me. One, I think it’s absolutely essential in men’s work that we create a space where that can happen. One is because it allows me to get some feedback on how I’m showing up in a group. Whether it’s a one on one or one on a group, doesn’t matter. I’m getting some feedback of the impact of my energy on that group.

Also, if I look a little bit deeper, so say, let’s do it. For instance, I say something to you today, doesn’t matter what it is, and you get triggered. In the moment that you get triggered, you are judging me to have been something that doesn’t work for you or it might work. Yes, you might get triggered into joy and think, hey, I love this guy. But some trigger is something that creates an emotional response.

Now, when there’s an emotional response, I know that if I have an emotional response to something that Debbie says to me, it’s actually about me. It’s not about her. She’s just offering me the opportunity to look at myself, to look at a blind spot that I can’t see, and it takes a certain amount of groundedness and a certain amount of risk taking to open myself up to that self-inspection.

Tim Matthews  08:59

I love that self-inspection.

Mark 09:01

I know. For instance, I remember once I said to somebody, I don’t think I can trust you. It was when I was working in a circle with a bunch of men. I said, I don’t know you. I don’t think I can trust you. And he was really good. He just held that space for me to do this. He was practiced in this method. And what was really interesting was they then brought me a mirror, and I looked in the mirror, and I had to say the same words to myself, and I don’t know you. I don’t think I can trust you.

And the truth that was in that, looking at myself and saying that to myself was just amazing, because there was a piece of me I didn’t trust..

Tim Matthews  09:40

Hmmm, wow!!!

Mark 09:42

But because I didn’t want to own that, I was projecting it onto somebody else. And being in a group and being able to have these conversations, these tough conversations, is essential for growth. And owning that piece of me that I tried to hide from the world is…

Tim Matthews  09:57

Yeah, it’s huge. I mean, unless you purposely cultivate these spaces. I’m very fortunate that we have these spaces, right? With the men that we work with. I think of the Alpha Reset. I think of the inner circle call I was just on right before this. I think of other calls that we host. I am incredibly grateful that we cultivate these spaces purposefully with another and between the men, because you just don’t get it anywhere else. Right? And it’s part of the issue that a lot of the men experience when they come to us, this idea of being a nice guy, of people pleasing, of creating covert contracts, of building resentments, right? Because they don’t feel comfortable being honest and owning their truth, owning the truth of their experience of another person.

So as a result, they go along with things. They placate, they do whatever it may be. And then when they walk in through the door and the woman in their life is owning her truth in that moment, whether it’s right or wrong or valid or not or oversteps the mark, whatever it may be, it kind of feels abnormal and that it feels like an attack because as men, we’re not conditioned, usually, anyway, not conditioned to be able to sit in that discomfort. Trade blows, if you will, but not trade blows in the sense that you’re reacting to sharing truth. Right? But while speaking it and giving it is key, like your ability to communicate that to that guy. I imagine it you took a risk, right? In communicating that in that moment.

Mark 11:49

Yeah. How often do you in life get a chance to stand in front of someone, look him in the eyes and in a very held space, say, right now, I can’t trust you or I won’t trust you, or I don’t trust you.

Tim Matthews  12:01

Exactly, right.

Mark 12:03

Do you know what happens when that happens? There’s like the whole room goes, yeah, it does. And then feel it, right? Once I’ve been witnessed as owning the piece of me that doesn’t trust, I go, oh, s***. I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust the world. And half a dozen other guys in the room go, yeah, I’ve got that too. Yeah, I recognize that too. But it’s having the balls to say, this is what’s going it’s owning the feeling that I’ve got, owning my own feeling and being able to say, this is what’s going on for me.

Tim Matthews  12:35

It’s huge, because that’s exactly what your wife needs from you. It’s exactly what your partner needs from you. That level of courage and vulnerability to one own what’s going on inside of you. And do it from a place of strength and courage and then also draw a boundary around it, too, if need be, to not be okay with certain things that are happening. Right? You shared with me earlier today about how one of the coaches brought his partner into his pack to speak to the men because the men wanted a woman’s perspective. And I’ll let you tell it. What advice did she give the men?

Mark 13:13

I only saw a short snippet, but the piece I got, which was so powerful for me, she described how, say I’ve got a bunch of two or three friends and I’m going out with my friends, and one of them says something which doesn’t land very nice, I go, okay, I’ll live with that. And then he repeats it and I go, no, that’s enough. That’s fine. That’s enough. I don’t need to hear that. Don’t want to hear that. It’s not making me feel comfortable. And the friend can either go, oh, sorry, mate. I was just pulling your leg. If it’s a guy or they go, okay, yeah. Or they might even try a little bit more.

But at some point, if it gets too much, I’ll just say, no, boundary goes down. I’m not going to see that person again. What this lady offered was in relationship, it’s so much easier in the early days to kind of go, we take a hand grenade. An emotional hand grenade gets thrown at me. I go. Okay, I’ll take that because I love you. And then another hand grenade comes and I’ll take that. To her point from the feminine, she’s saying the boundaries, putting down that boundary earlier in relationship is more important because the relationship deserves more respect, maybe than the friendship.

Tim Matthews  14:31

Yeah, it’s profound. Because the other thing you shared as well, correct me if I’m wrong, was as men, you need to create firmer, clearer boundaries with your woman than you would do with your friends, and you’ve got to create them faster. And she wants and needs that from you. Is that one of the things she shared as well?

Mark 14:53

She wants and needs that. And I think there’s a piece that I’m going to add to that now, is that there’s something about the male female energy as well, an insult or something, a judgment or some lack of respect coming from man to man. We handle that a certain way. If it’s coming from the woman, is she testing? Is she testing for that boundary? Is she getting a sense of where this man, that she’s in relationship? Where’s his edge, where does he finish? Where is she safe? Where is she not safe?

Tim Matthews  15:23


Mark 15:25

Can she open up and trust that this space with clear boundaries is a place where she’s going to feel comfortable? If she can’t feel the boundary, how does she know how safe the space is?

Tim Matthews  15:41

So true. So I’m so excited for these men in the activation method who are on office hours yesterday because they’re getting sparring partners. They were on there, it’s getting organized. They’re creating a space one another where they are going to be giving each other this honest account and feedback of one another and how they’re being experienced, right? In order to train themselves to a standard that’s more intense, more real, more vulnerable, whatever it may be, than is required at home. So that when they’re walking through the door, they need to create the boundary, like this one was saying, and speak up.

They’ve got the training to be able to do it. They’ve got the strength, they’ve got the calmness, they’ve got the courage, they’ve got the firmness. And they used to being able to sit in with it because they’ve given that before to the other guys and they’ve received it as well from the other men. They practiced in it. So I’m very excited for them. It’s going to be an amazing thing that they get to have. But let’s say there’s a listener right now who’s resonating with this, who doesn’t have it. What advice would you give them? How could they get sparring partners in their life? And or how could they practice so they could train themselves so that to a level but the training is harder than the competition?

Mark 17:03

Sure, that’s a good question and I’m not sure I’ve got an answer, but let’s go with what came up intuitively. So my partner Debbie is the most amazing people pleaser. Everybody loves her and she’s a self-professed people pleaser. And it was really tough for me in our relationship because I’d ask something, wanting an honest answer, and I wanted to understand where she was at.

And I could feel in my body that she was trying to give me the answer that she thought I wanted to hear. And I used to get frustrated, and I used to get frustrated because I didn’t know, couldn’t feel where the edge of her was in a way. And one day I said to her, you know what, Babes? I would rather be pissed off with you for who you are than being pissed off with you for who you’re pretending to be.

And I don’t know where that piece of wisdom came from, but it came from somewhere deep down. And it’s just like, if I’m going to be angry with you, I’m going to be angry with you, but I’d rather be angry with the real person than the person that you’re pretending to be in order to please me. So I had a sensitivity to the people pleaser.

Now, my question is, let’s flip that round. So I know many men who come into this program consider themselves maybe the Mr. Nice Guy they’re learning about the Mr. Nice Guy. They’re learning about the people pleaser. Can they imagine what it’s like for their woman to come to them for a really clear answer and they get an answer which is actually a dodge? How can we help our guys in the activation method to realize when they dodge, when they’re going to deer mode?

Tim, the question comes in there’s something inside that goes I’m not sure I want to answer that because there’s a risk, but how can we help them to avoid dodging and just be really honest? Take the anger that it might create, but wouldn’t I rather have someone angry at me for my truth than for something I’m pretending to be? Does make sense?

Tim Matthews  19:10

Yeah, it does make sense. To answer the question for me, it’s just got to be experienced, right? I think about the various experiences we lead the men through to train their nervous system to embrace and sit in the discomfort. I think about Cuba, I think about the reset. I think about all sorts of experiences they go through which the idea of having sparring partners and being in communication with a man face to face about difficult things, the realities of how you’re showing up, some other experience, right?

So it’s got to be experience. This just cannot be theoretical, right? It just can’t. So I was to give the listeners some practical advice. So one thing I ask every week to the men on the inner circle call, what’s one thing that’s going to get you uncomfortable between now and next week? What’s one thing? And have them think about it, whether it’s something sexually be, it something within the health, whatever. Not one thing that’s going to move the needle the most for them, but one thing that’s going to get them really uncomfortable. And the reason why we do that, we get some very real answers from them, is for them to continue to seek out discomfort, for them to get used to sitting in the uncomfortable energy, right?

So they’re practicing in it and they’re increasing their capacity for it. So my first piece of advice is that what’s one thing you can do every day would be even better. That’s going to make you uncomfortable. Again, I think back to when I first started, how the powerful man came about first sharing my journey on social media. I almost became addicted to the freedom of just sharing, getting the skeletons out of the closet, of the reality of who I was and how I was living.

Taking pictures of myself in my box of shots saying hey, here’s where I am in my body, right, nothing to hide, sharing everything, all sorts, which was kind of weird because I never used to share on social media and then I just all of a sudden exploded. But the point is that feeling of being uncomfortable that I experienced back, I didn’t realize what I was doing back then.

Right, but that feeling of been uncomfortable fueled the sense of freedom that I had trade my nervous system — made it so much easier to just continue to speak my truth and be me without caring what other people thought, right? So the first thing is you got to find ways to get uncomfortable.

Second thing is get uncomfortable physically. Go and get a literal sparring partner. Go and join some kind of pick up, some kind of martial art where you’re going to get physically pressed. You’re going to have to remain calm under pressure and you’re going to have to feel somebody else coming down on you physically and you’re going to have to hold your own and be very comfortable in doing so.

The third thing I would say is to become very aware of your energy and when you are finding yourself tighten up, maybe your stomach tightens or you want to react, your breath changes, whatever it may be, become very aware of that. When you feel that happen, take a big breath, let it out, sigh and smile. We give the guys at the reset a tool for this, the magic dust. You guys know if you’ve experienced this process, you guys have something a little bit special to be able to use or go into detail about what it is or how it works that does that immediately shifts the state when anything happens.

So I’m excited brother. It makes me think about just getting a lot of the guys in the community together on an very impromptu basis and just creating a bit of a fire circle and just going at it with truths, giving and receiving truths. It’s such a powerful thing to do.

Mark 23:05

That discomfort and resistance, pick it. I sometimes describe it as resistance. I can feel there’s a resistance. What is it they say what you resist persists and the growth is just being with that resistance and pushing your edge just a little bit past there. Step at a time.

Tim Matthews  23:26

I love it. Well guys, you heard it from the man himself, the wizard, Mr. Handsworth. Brother, thank you for being here. That’s another wrap for us on the powerful mantra. If you would like to learn more about the activation method head over to thepowerfulman.com. Equally, you can head over to the free Facebook community on Facebook, obviously on Facebook, since it’s a Facebook community.

For those of you that are listening, that are within the movement, then obviously you can head over to private community in workplace. If you have any questions about this stuff, we would happily answer them. Mr. Handsworth, thank you again, you’re a wizard and…

Mark 24:05

Thanks Tim.

Tim Matthews  24:06

We’ll see you next time.

Mark 24:08

See you soon.