Men Need Agency, not Power (just like women)
Or, how attachment strategies shape agency
You see. It isn't so much POWER that men need to be mentally and emotionally healthy.
Men need a sense of AGENCY.
And women need AGENCY too.
But in a different way—and depending on their attachment strategy.
We could have more relationship (and discipleship) breakthroughs if we shifted from talking about "freedom" & "power" and talked about agency.
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From a Desert Attachment through Agency
The desert survival strategy (as we call it)…
doubles down on independence,
and uses one’s agency to bolster this sense of independence,
in order to protect against further disappointment or wounding through intimacy (or actually, through the childhood neglect of intimacy).
Because this use of agency for independence is an ingrained survival strategy, those with a desert-avoidant strategy (men or women) will resist criticisms of their agency in a therapeutic, discipleship, or spiritual formation situation.
More than likely they will just check out and assume you are out to lunch.
What is needed is an affirmation of agency, and then a redirection of using agency for independence and using it to pursue more intimacy—with others and with God.
What is needed is a redirection of agency toward intimacy—with others and with God.
From a Jungle Attachment through Agency
On the other hand, those with an anxious attachment strategy (which is more often, but not exclusively women) will use their agency to pursue intimacy and connection with others.
The jungle survival strategy (as we call it)…
doubles down on relational intimacy,
by using one’s agency to bolster this sense of intimacy,
in order to protect against the fear of abandonment or rejection.
This avoidant strategy might even feel like a controlling or manipulative use of agency is it seeks to secure intimacy from others.
Because this use of agency for intimacy is an ingrained survival strategy, those with a jungle-anxious strategy (women and men) will resist criticisms of their agency in a therapeutic, discipleship, or spiritual formation situation.
They will think their actions are perfectly reasonable.
What is needed is an affirmation of agency, and then a redirection of using their agency for independence. This often takes the form of learning to have and enforce boundaries.
While men and women might use the language of freedom and power, what we really need to be talking about is how AGENCY is used to pursue positive instances of independence and intimacy.
P.S. Our ATTACHING TO GOD Learning Cohort is forming again soon. Join the waitlist for all the details.
P.P.S. And check out our new, innovative Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) in Spiritual Formation and Relational Neuroscience.
We’re seeking a neuroscience-informed spiritual formation. Break the algorithms & become a free or paid subscriber