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Challenge — Participants Open Their Hearts

The Cycle of 40 Days is over. This was written for you to re-assess and consider your life. It was a time of growth and renewal, a time of challenge that you could see through and come out of victorious.

Below is a selection of comments showing the breadth of involvement in the challenge by some of the original readers. I would like to thank all those who responded and all those who took part and found it affected their lives in some way.

On: Do You Deserve Fatherly Love?

In this you looked at what your father means to you, how important he is in your life.

This is a sensitive topic for me. Let me offer a different perspective: I want my father to feel that he deserves his own love. My dad, 76, has gone through life thinking he was second best and not allowed to have what he wants. Before he goes, I want him to feel he is worthy. If that happens, then our bond will be strengthened as well.

Alex Blackwell

On: Do You Find Intimacy Difficult?

Men often have issues with intimacy and are often unable to admit they have issues with intimacy. They frequently sublimate their emotions in actions they can understand.

Guilty as charged on this count Graham. For me, it's hard for intimacy not to lead to sex. I need to keep learning the value of connection for connection's sake.

Alex Blackwell

This connection you talk about aside from sex is very special. My girlfriend and I do it often. What gets in the way are the relationship experiences that we have had in the past that change behaviors and reactions on a daily basis. This perspective has to be practiced throughout the day and not just when things are quiet and conducive to this connection.

Mark Parbus

On: Suffering Is Resistance To Pain

What if the physical pain you suffer is an outward indication of inward emotional suffering. Your body/mind system is highly developed and will take whatever means it can to alert you to problems that are being ignored or stuffed down. Pain can be a deliberate communication to you by your Emotional System that something needs to be dealt with.

I have a very close friend who is wracked with pain and I've sensed all along it was from extreme emotional pain over the last 10 years. I have encouraged him to do hot yoga to release the trapped energy and heartbreak. Thank you for sharing...

Karin Olsen

On: What Do You Like About Yourself?

Liking yourself is a very personal thing. You are always with yourself, you can never get away. If you don't like yourself, or all of yourself, you could have a miserable life.

Sometimes when all that you have, is taken from you, do you truly find out enough about yourself to answer these insightful questions you pose. Graham, I have friends who have gone through hell and I speak from personal experience. Your world can change in a second.

When you are stripped of everything but you have, you finally have the knowledge of who you truly are. I hope people get to this stage without going through hardship like I did and that of a couple of friends of mine.

Mark Parbus

On: Describe The Ideal, New, Amazing You

The greatest gift you can give yourself is to take a blank canvas and start designing. You can range far and wide in your pursuit of the ideal, you can go into the macro with over- arching concepts or go into the micro with amazing detail.

Each one of us has to accept and celebrate the way we express the basic instincts we possess. These are to provide and protect those close to us and those who cannot protect themselves. I am 50 years old and tonight I did something that I have wanted to do since I was 16. That was to go into a boxing ring and spar.

I have been training for the last couple of months and I was finally ready tonight. When I raced cars Years ago, there was a saying, "when the green flag drops, the bullshit stops. What the above saying says is that it is easy to talk but more important to do.

When I got into the ring tonight, I was petrified. When the bell rang and I looked across the ring at my opponent, I realized that I had crossed the line from talking to doing. My survival instinct consumed me. I realized that there was no turning back.

After the session was over, all of these men who spent the previous 90 minutes fighting went over to each other and gave each other a hug. I am not saying that we should all put on the gloves and step into the boxing ring. What I found tonight was a bunch of men displaying their masculinity in a very primal way and then celebrating it with each other.

Every man has the basic instinct to provide and protect. The beautiful thing is that we each do this in our own way. Tonight I looked my fear straight in the eyes and found another part of me that I thought never existed. I will sleep well tonight.

Mark Parbus

On: How Will You Achieve Change

Men can make the mistake of thinking it's just the outward world that needs to shift, hence the frequency of young mistresses and new jobs, whereas it is internally that the work needs to happen. Even simple change needs to come from inside, needs to come from the heart.

Long term, sustainable change is only accomplished by taking that step to make 'One Small Change'. We all set multiple, huge goals with the best intention. We all want things quickly. When these huge goals are not hit right away, we get frustrated and give up.

We have to ask a couple of questions. First question is "What area of your professional/personal life, if a small change occurred, would have the largest impact on the quality of your life?" Second question is "What "One Small Change" can I make over the next 2 weeks that would have the largest impact in this area?

Mark Parbus

On: Can You Now Accept Who You Are?

The purpose of all this is to be happy with yourself, to feel good about yourself in order to create basis for the amazing life you want to lead. This ability to be at one with who you are is an essential pre-cursor to growing as a man.

Graham, I learned something about myself over the last year. That I am not as fearless as I thought I was. Throughout my life, I have responded to my fear in a very bravado way. If I was scared of going absurdly fast in a car, I raced cars. When I was scared of getting a horse in a gallop, I put him in a gallop. Most recently, I was scared of actually getting into a boxing ring, and got in and fought. The fear that I never confronted and one that had a part in the demise of my marriage was the fear of showing vulnerability.

How did I show fear in my bravado way? By acting that I was not fearful. That I had everything under control. As I have gotten older, I have this need to connect more intimately with my partner on an emotional level. My ex-wife was emotionally unavailable, so I developed ways of dealing with my feelings through activities and work.

When I was divorced, I said no more emotionally unavailable women. As the law of attraction dictates, what you put out, you attract. Well, I met this woman who is so emotionally available to me. When she wants to hug, she hugs. When she wants to love, she loves. When she gets mad, watch out because those emotions come out also. She has this uncanny ability to look underneath my bravado and see that something is bothering me. Despite my bravado, she can just sense it. As much as I tried to hide it. She could just feel it. She would want to help but did not know what I needed. She got progressively more frustrated and eventually it was getting in the way of our relationship.

I needed to face this if I was going to keep this woman and not go through another loss in my life.

Mark Parbus

On: Celebrate Who You Are – Be Outrageous!

It's time to stop and just celebrate. Celebrate who you are on this amazing day, this day of openness and power. Celebrate everything that has brought you here and everything that has made you.

As men, we are taught to celebrate in a very manly way. Go to the bar, ball game, etc. and celebrate in ways that do not really connect to how we are feeling. Men are taught to maintain their bravado even in the ways that they celebrate. This keeps us from fully feeling joy. Bravado is good but it is also a burden. There is an opportunity to feel joy for joy's sake. Just to let it go.

Mark Parbus

On: How Do You Use Your Sexuality?

Men can feel caught between the need to be men and the perception of abuse. Either way it stems from the man's lack of certainty about himself and his ability to deal with male sexuality. Male sexuality is a potent force that needs to be understood and integrated as part of a man's personality rather than simple controlled.

Sexuality has been a huge challenge in my own life, although much of it has been healed by now. I used to feel that sexuality had a lot to do with mastering the discipline of the body inherent in the Warrior archetype.

I'm slowly coming to terms with that the key really lies in the receptivity of the Lover archetype. That mastery of a man's sexuality lies mainly in the most 'feminine' of the male archetypes. I thought it was a bit paradoxical myself.

Eivind F S

On: What Are You Dishonest About?

Honesty cannot be relative to be effective; honesty cannot be bargained with. If you stand on your honesty with others then others can trust you and believe what you say. To do this you have stand on every aspect of your honesty.

Graham, I to am not always totally honest. I had to get honest with myself and realize I would never be 100% honest. That actually freed up to be more honest.

Owen Marcus

As I observe my inner dialog-thoughts and emotions, I can begin to understand the false salve that dishonesty can be to an injured part of ourselves. For a moment the pain is lifted, yet it infects the wound. Honesty can initially feel like alcohol in the wound, yet it cleans, and prepares the wound for healing.

If the decision for honesty or dishonesty is driven by a response to something we feel uncomfortable with then maybe there is something more fundamental that needs to be addressed. If we can maintain each moment in a state of self acceptance, that our true nature is not affected by either honest or dishonesty, then we will not need to contemplate the need for honesty because it will flow freely, as a natural part of uninjured selves, there will be no room for dishonesty. If I get to this state of being, could I honestly tell you?

Shawn Tisdell

On: The Life You Are Going To Lead Now

You have asked yourself many questions and had many insights in the course of this challenge. You started with a period of Awareness, looking at what you are inside, what your emotions tell you. You then went through a period of Acceptance, finding the ability to be comfortable with what you found out about yourself. You are now finishing a period of Authenticity, looking at how you are to others and how you live your life.

Well, you know I found this later..but better late..than never. I hope to take this..and Make it MINE. I'm going to start this from the beginning. I'm so excited. Life is Amazing.

Thank you, Graham. This will help so many of my friends – my family. This Will Help Anyone that wants to Make it BETTER...every day.

Karen Packard Kosmalski

Thank you, Karen, that's such a fitting place to end this journey.