Finding And Feeding A Man’s Primal Giggle

Dr. Jim Sellner, PhD., DipC.  Jim leads the Live, Virtual, Facilitator-Led Workshop – For Men Over 55.

I first met Ben & Jock at Cold Mountain, Cortes Island in 1973 during a Come Alive Workshop.

I was terrified for the first three days, trying to hide in amongst the group — didn’t work!

After watching people scream and yell during their bodywork sessions, I finally decided to risk entering that seemingly brutal gauntlet of growth.

Well, much to my surprise – and Ben & Jock’s – the more I breathed, the more Ben pressed his thumbs into my jaw, the more needles Jock stuck in me, the more I laughed and laughed and laughed! It was a wonderful surprise to experience that first primal giggle.

I had no idea I was holding in so much joy. No wonder I was such a serious young man – takes a lot of “seriousness” to hold in all that joyful energy.

There were lots of pain and tears to come later but that first joyful experience was a wonderful event.

At the end of the workshop I was having lunch with Ben & Jock. They said, “You know, Jim, when you learn how to become a human being, you’d be great working with people.”

I thought, “That seems reasonable, whatever it means. I’ll do it.”

Next thing I know I’ve quit my job, sold my house, separated from my wife, got a scholarship to get my MA in psychology and was interning in the 12-week-long resident fellow program.

So the journey began and now some 49 years later I appreciate how taking that first risk has been crucial to my development as a man – saved my life, actually.

Most of my work these days is in the corporate sphere, most often with men who are living within the painful, lonely confines of The Phallic Imperative – the set of unspoken but powerful rules that men are supposed to live and die by.

A few of those rules:

  • Live by a brutal omnipotence — harder, faster. Ya snooze, ya lose.
  • You must be problem-solving in order to prove your worthiness (no matter that there may not be a problem. Make one up if necessary) — the intimate relator thing is for women.
  • We men think we need sex and women should give it to us. This Phallic Imperative leads us into temptations, often with dire consequences in our youth. In old age, we judge ourselves harshly for not being able to “get it up” and “keep it up.” This Imperative is gold to big pharma.
  • Never show any weakness. Never let a woman control you — a sign that you are weak and stupid.
  • When in doubt get mad! Over-power the person who has questioned your authority (masculinity), just to show her/him “who’s the boss.”
  • Fight your way to become “King of Dunghill.” You must be at least better than anyone else, but best is preferred. Competition is the name of the game.

You get the picture?

As we men age into our 50‘s, 60‘s and 70‘s we find, much to our chagrin, that we can no longer live by those rules – it’s just too tiring to try to “keep it up all the time.”

Many men give up while sliding into depression, an ennui, grumpiness, alcoholism or . . . (name your coping mechanism.)

We do not have to succumb to that seemingly inevitable decline of mind, spirit and body.

We certainly need to recognize that our energy, interests and values are changing.

Our primal giggle is still there in force.

We just need to find more age-appropriate ways of accessing it for more joy and a sense of adundance  – should we choose to take the assignment.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: “Am I able and willing to live a full, courageous, creative life until the day I die?”

These are some of the things we’ll explore and confront in the Live, Virtual, Facilitator-Led Workshop – For Men Over 55.

Most men’s lizard brains jump into action here:

“But wait! Just hold it right there, Dr. Jim, did you say virtual!? You can’t do personal growth over the internet!!”

“Yes I did say virtual. Uuumm, is that one of your Phallic Imperatives?”

Don’t let yourself become a “Male Dinosaur” viewing life from the swamp!

Risk nothing, get nothing.


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