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Why I want men to talk

Co-Founder of The Privileged Man Pete Hunt on the renaissance of an ancient tradition that sees men coming together in search of improved mental and emotional wellbeing

Wednesday 12 October 2022 14:26 BST
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(Pete Hunt)

When growing up in Surrey in the 1990’s I would be on sports pitches at least five times a week, playing football, hockey and cricket.

I loved having so much sport in my life, not least because it was a distraction from my struggles with dyslexia. It was also where I excelled in terms of my own personal development as a leader, constantly raising the bar for us to perform better and be a better tighter unit.

It was a brotherhood that supported me through an academically disempowering time and as I learned later in life, a traumatising one too.

When I left school in 2000, I was hit with vestibular neuritis (severe dizziness) which was completely debilitating, not only physically but mentally as well. I withdrew from team sport as I felt too unstable.

I was no longer part of a team and it was deeply destabilising. I threw myself into work, somehow forging a way through books and theories I didn’t understand to become a chartered surveyor. I worked hard and long hours, first at Knight Frank then Merrill Lynch and finally at CBRE in Hong Kong.

It was social but I missed the camaraderie, connection and community I had previously experienced in sports.

To compensate I learnt swiftly (like many in the industry) to drink, smoke and even eventually form a short but intense relationship with drugs having relocated to Hong Kong.

I was successful, mainly because I was tenacious, rather than passionate about my job. But as anyone with a grey hair will tell you, adrenalin will only take you so far.

Whilst trying to sustain a professional persona through capital raising – and together with highly complex and stressful ventures in Indonesia - in 2016 my world fell apart.

I had a breakdown, or as I’ve learnt to call it, a breakthrough. Business, my relationship, friendships all went south fast and hard.

It was not a gentle tap on the brake but a smash into a reinforced brick wall. Emotional, economic and physical abuse rained down on me.

Did I deserve it? I had to get to the bottom of it. This time I wasn’t going back to toxins. It was time for a clean (in all senses of the word) break.

I catapulted myself into the world of personal development, spending two years travelling the world taking courses, and asking searching questions about mine and the world’s future.

It was a deeply profound time for me. I realised, aged 34, supposedly in my prime, just how exhausted I was. As I looked around I became aware of just how many of my peers were running through life lit up by drink and drugs just to get to the point of having an inebriated, “honest” conversation.

Why couldn’t we do this sober? Why can’t men tell each other they love them sober?

I came to the realisation that the societal system in which I had been raised was creating emotionally suppressed men who were making decisions to lead lives that caused them mental and emotional illness. I was exhibit number 1.

My brush with depression during this period and the unearthing of my chronic (in terms of the longevity of my suffering) anxiety led me to start feeling compassion (a word I was completely unaware of) for myself and for all those men like me who were still suffering.

As I came out of the fog, and began to heal, it became clear that going back to the status quo was not an option. I wanted more men to know there is a choice in their lives and to create spaces where conscious change makers could come together.

It is why I came up with the idea to launch a community with the basic but powerful premise that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

However, it was only when I was fortunate enough to be in Bali with my family in 2020 that I was introduced to the concept of a Men’s Circle by my friend Esmond Baring.

The level of honesty and vulnerability I experienced in myself and others felt like I’d spiritually come home with some of the most extra-ordinary men. It was a triggering time – in a very positive sense.

A men’s circle is a safe space where men can listen, rather than offer advice, and where, if held correctly, men can feel secure in sharing their innermost thoughts and concerns with others without fear of embarrassment or ridicule.

This is not a new concept, it was (and remains) common among many indigenous cultures, where there are long-held traditions of communities gathering and bonding around a fire to discuss important matters.

At the circles, men are encouraged to share, which not only supports their own healing but also triggers feelings and realisations in others around the circle.

Men realise they are not islands, rather archipelagos, brought together by the desire to live more balanced, conscious, and honest lives.

As I witnessed the power of the men’s circle for myself, it became clear that this was the modality Esmond and I had been wanting to share with the world since 2016.

The Privileged Man was born with the emphasis being that true privilege was being part of a connected, conscious brotherhood, committed to the basic premise of finding one’s truth.

Camaraderie, connection and community may be seen through a screen in 2022, as opposed to a muddy changing room, but I find its healing powers are as deeply felt.

Pete Hunt is a Wellness Business Consultant and Co-Founder of The Privileged Man. To learn more about The Privileged Man and their men’s circles click here.

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