Wild at Heart is a book that I’ve loved incorporating with my male clients since I started practicing as a Therapist. The author, John Eldredge, is a Christian therapist who does a great job of being able to speak to men with all different types of backgrounds from a mental health standpoint. Wild at Heart walks men through an adventure into discovering, or rediscovering, their purpose by looking at our wounds as well as the three desires of every man’s heart.
My goal isn’t to overview every detail found in this book, but to give a synopsis of what I’ve personally found helpful in my work with people. In general, the concepts here will be easy to pick up if you are a practicing Christian . If that isn’t a part of your worldview know that they can easily be replaced with general meaning making in order to create purpose. I am going to stick with the original Christian language to simplify the message included and mirror the book content, however I’m confident anyone could find the lessons incorporated helpful!
Here we will cover, “The Question,” and, “The Wound,” which leads to my next post on, “Healing the Wound,” and what Eldredge describes as, “A Battle to Fight.” I’ll finish up this series with, “A Beauty to Rescue,” and, “The Adventure to Live,” which you can find as live links in each post, should you want to read the next synapses when it’s uploaded, or jump back to the beginning. Here we go!
In Wild at Heart, Eldredge starts off by talking about the question that haunts every man. Now, this question has a few different versions and variations. For one man I worked with, it was the question, “Am I good enough?” Meaning, can I offer my significant other everything they are asking for, and looking for in a man? For a different client, the question looked like, “Am I strong enough to save my marriage?” Or, “Do I have what it takes to be a good Father?”
All of these questions are different variations of the main question that John Eldredge says haunts everyman, which ism “Am I really a man/ Have I got what it takes when it really counts”? This question is really speaking to our self-worth. Many of my clients are questioning their self-worth as a man because they do not know if they are strong enough, or good enough. These questions creep into our minds because of a past wound that has never been dealt with.
The wound is the next topic that the book speaks to, and I have found that this section resonates with every male client that has read the book. Every man has a wound that they are holding on to as baggage in their life which is holding them down or weighing on them. Each wound looks a little different. For some men, the wound stems from an absent father figure, an emotionally or physically abusive parents, or an important coach who reinforced a negative though or idea about oneself. These are just a few examples of where the wound can stem from, but there are many other places a wound can start.
As an example, I recently had one client who had a coach growing up that told him time and time again that he was too slow, not strong enough, and would never make it to the next level. Those statements led my client to believe that he was never good enough, so he always doubts himself when it comes to relationships and his job. He is always seeking others approval because he always thought he was not good enough.
Because of this wound, his past girlfriends would break up with him because they would get tired of him always having to get their approval, instead of being confident in himself. At work, his boss would get annoyed with him having to always double check his work because of his lack of self-confidence. All of these situations were correlated to his initial wound, of being told he was never going to be good enough. The wound comes with a distinct message that gives rise to a false self where every man feels stuck.
Check out part 2 of this series here.
If you are reading this post and you feel like something is moving inside, then it’s likely that some of Eldredges’ content resonates with you. If any of this struck a nerve and you feel like you need someone to talk to and figure all of this out, then please don’t waste another moment and reach out. I’d be happy to help you identify these things by mapping out your options and charting your path.
Written by therapist Alex Parlette
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