He’s stuck, feels guilty, and can’t imagine a solution.

March 11, 2014

Dear Wayne,

I am going out of my mind. I need some time alone. I am successful in business. I work long hours to take care of my rather large family—we have five children. My wife and I love each other. She is a superb mother and we are very close. But I am having a hard time sleeping at night, my attitude at the office has been deteriorating, I am gaining weight, and I just do not seem to have my usual patience with the kids. My problem is time. I just cannot seem to find the time for myself. Plus, I feel terribly guilty about the prospect of me getting time off when my wife is not asking for the same relief. Any insight?


Out of My Mind


Dear Out of My Mind,

Before you can really hear what I’m about to tell you, you’ve got to take a deep breath and give yourself a chance to regroup. And the rest of you guys out there who feel similarly, take a few deep breaths, as well. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out very, very slowly. Do it ten times. Just concentrate on your breath. Then open your eyes.

Feel a little calmer, more relaxed? Good. This is where you want to be when it’s time to find a solution to a problem. If you’re body isn’t getting enough oxygen—because you’re so tied up in knots, you’ll continue to stay in the problem. Let this simple breathing exercise remind you that you have the power to back yourself into a corner, but you also have the power to get yourself out. However, a little help from the men is always helpful.

Let’s identify your problem. You say it’s time. I don’t think so. My guess? It’s fear. You have been working very hard to build your family, to build your business. But somewhere along the way, you’ve lost sight of building you! It’s easy to do when we’re young men. But it begins to get painful as we get older. By then, we’re so locked into our routines, and a slew of responsibilities, we can’t even imagine how to turn things around. It scares us. It’s a common trap and you’re in it, my friend. Whaddya say we help get you out of this problem?

If you don’t carve out time for yourself, it will eventually take you down, perhaps emotionally, physically and spiritually. Now, what that new schedule will look like will be up to you. But I can make an initial suggestion that has worked for many men.

Adjust your daily routine to include a gratitude prayer. “Thank you God (or whomever is in your corner) for my children. Thank you for my beautiful wife. Thank you for these beautiful trees, hills, for my health, etc.” You get the idea. Do this every day. And do it until you believe it, until you feel a shift in your body, a sense of warmth, calm, or maybe until it’s easier for you to breathe. When you actually are grateful, go on with your day.

What you’re going to find, if you do this regularly for a couple of weeks, is an opportunity to see you, your day, your family, your life and your options with a new perspective. This is where you need to start. When you care for yourself spiritually, you’ll begin to care about yourself emotionally and physically. And that’s when you’ll be the best man, husband and father you can be.

From this connected and open place, continue to ask for help and find the support to figure out exactly what else you need on a daily basis (exercise and proper diet?) and periodically (a few days away with your buddies, or on your own?)

When we’re stuck, we’re afraid. When we get the help to move through that fear, we begin to see possibilities that could have never occurred to us when were stuck. It’s hard to see the opportunities when our heads are so far up our…well, you get the idea. After all, you know that place quite well.

Surround yourself with some good, supportive men. Chances are their heads are, or have been, firmly planted in that same dark place. They’ll know what you’re going through. And together, you can help each other see the light.