Connecting to a New Masculine Construct
Mark [0:00] I’d like to welcome Cory Wolverton to the Heart of Connection podcast. Cory is a social worker by trade. It’s lovely to be able to have a conversation with a fellow social worker, and particularly a male social worker. There are not many of us around it in the social work field.
Cory [0:16] No. It’s – I’d say it’s 90% women which is not a bad thing. I think probably, men have had enough of a say – probably not the worst.
Mark [0:28] Yeah, I think and how we’ve said it probably really needs to change.
Cory [0:35] In Social Work?
Mark [0:37] No, in the patriarchy world that we’ve lived in.
Cory [0:40] Yeah, absolutely.
Men’s Social Conditioning
Mark [0:41] The social conditioning that this male patriarchy that has had over the course of the centuries. I think it’s prohibiting our ascension to evolve into our true nature.
Cory [0:55] Yeah, I think the most difficult part of that transition is the fact that when you’ve got power, the way that men have over millennial and not wanting to give that up. It’s – in some ways I guess it’s understandable why would you want to give that up when you’re when you’ve got privilege and entitlement and stuff like that. But in other ways, obviously, it’s time to actually start making some inroads. We say we do a lot with regards to that, but really, when you look at the number of women in politics, the number of women that are in charge as CEOs of companies it’s just way too low still. So a lot of work to do.
Mark [1:40] Now Cory, I met you through when I was at Geelong’s Transition Streets festival couple Sundays ago. You were at a Greens gathering or forum, whatever it was. I introduce myself to you to touch base to see if I could invite you to the podcast.
Connecting to the Social Work Profession
Cory [2:07] So I guess outside of social work I’m pretty involved with the Greens. Predominately Bellarine Greens as I am the convener for them out there. I guess our main thing with the Bellarine Greens and not so much the whole Greens – is community participation. We are being an active part of the community. We try to get out there and we try to plant trees. We have days where we just pick up litter on the beach which is quite meditative. If you know even the kids even love it. I mean they go into this zone. The same with planting trees, the same with weeding – it’s something you can do. It’s social, you feel good after it and I think it’s actually good for the soul as well.
Mark [2:58] Well done. Now coming to the terms of the topics that we have conversations with – is a connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is.’ It sounds through your work with a Greens that’s connecting to self and others. In terms of connecting to yourself, how does Cory connect himself physically, emotionally or physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
Connecting to Self
Cory [3:23] Yeah, I think it’s something that’s actually quite difficult. Like, really and for myself – where I’d – it’s horrible to think that in this day and age that you’re so structured that you actually have to make and book in time to do that. I guess when you have a job and you’re an active member of a community and you’ve got a family – I still study I’m doing my Masters at the moment. You almost do have to make that time. I think for myself, I would I do that through, I guess, doing meditation at where I’m present and whether that’s doing the dishes, walking to work. Obviously, Surfing is a big part for me. Being present in that. And that for me means when I’m walking, I’m practicing walking. When I’m doing the dishes, I’m practicing dishes and I’m actively trying to enjoy that. Whatever I’m kind of doing. I think that goes a long way. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing whatever it is, and you’re at being – doing it presently then it’s going to be okay – do you know what I mean.
Connecting to a New Masculine Construct
Mark [4:43] When you connect in – as you are bringing the presence. What do you notice with inside yourself? What and how do you notice a difference with what’s going on in your inner world?
Cory [4:55] Well I think like physically, I think your breathing changes. Probably your heart rate probably starts to drop. I think a lot of the time particularly with anxieties and things like this, you live in a heightened state. So physically I think, you’re probably noticing and probably your blood pressure starts to probably drop. Then I think to get your mind kind of changes to the exact movement or thing that you’re doing basically. And obviously, nobody’s perfect – your mind will bounce around a little bit. I think you have to be comfortable with that. And then I think, from there – that’s just giving you that little bit of time to actually connect with yourself whatever that kind of feels and looks like for you.
Connecting to our Heart & Mind
Mark [5:44] When you connect to yourself do you notice your connection to your heart?
Cory [5:50] Yeah, I guess it’s difficult. Because I guess you’ve got the mind and the heart and in lots of ways they’re two different things. I guess you kind are in that more relaxed kind of state. But I know for me, it’s probably different for every single person. Whether that’s like taking the time just to be grateful and to remember to love and that you are loved is probably where that connection is for me.
Mark [6:29] Do you think the journey of men, we were talking before about the patriarchal system that men created? Have we in that creation? Has that facilitated us men disconnecting from our hearts and our inner self?
Connecting to the Construct of Masculinity
Cory [6:48] Yeah, I’d say so. I think obviously you know masculinity is just a construct, isn’t it? Like, we’ve constructed it and we can dismantle it as well. Every time that we enter into a new place, into a new context with a new person we are constructing that masculinity. We are right now we’re constructing that as we speak. I’m going to act differently in front of different people, whether its friends, work colleagues, people that don’t know as well. And I think with regards that, there is a particular type of masculinity in each culture is different. And in Australia, it probably does limit our ability to be emotionally available to other people and to ourselves as well. It’s sad in a way but in another way, I think, as a society, we are actually we are getting better at it and we are becoming more open. I saw a stat the other day that said, in 1982, or something like that – 3% of fathers that changed a nappy. Today it’s like, 80 or 90%. So just the ability to actually connect with your child-like in those types of contexts scenario is increasing, but it is hard.
Connecting to Men’s Sensitivity
Mark [8:11] In working with men, I always say that we have a sensitive side to ourselves. We were emotional beings till about five years old then it’s the old, toxic masculinity, “don’t cry.” That social construction, “don’t cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.” I wonder whether that’s taught us, men, to disconnect from that essence of ourselves. And what impact has that then facilitated on men connecting to each other?
Men closing ourselves off to Vulnerability
Cory [8:45] Yeah, I think it’s probably in that the ability to be open with another like if you are taught that from a young age. Then you will close yourself off and you try to limit vulnerabilities. And I think as far as masculinity in that construct in our society, that it’s really important for men to, you know, to limit those vulnerabilities. To look tough, to look like we’re in control because that’s what masculinity is. Its bravado and strength and control and toughness and risk-taking. And all those things can be positive things, to be confident and to be strong and to be in control. They’re great, great attributes of any person. But I find that femininity has those things as well. You know, it’s perception and its construct. So, to say that those things aren’t positive and in the same with what we regard as feminine attributes which are caring and nurturing and emotional connectedness they can be really beautiful things, for men to have as well. For masculinity to really be a part of masculinity.
Mark [10:05] I wonder whether men are screaming for that sort of connection at some level?
Men’s Connection is by Doing
Cory [10:10] I think so. I think it’s funny as men that we can’t just meet up with nothing to do. You need – you almost need – we need to be catching up to be going fishing do you know what I mean. Like we need to have a hobby, you know.
Mark [10:29] Yeah, that’s the connection is “the doing.” In the doing, we connect?
Cory [10:34] Yes.
Mark [10:37] And when there’s not the doing, yeah, I’m wondering whether that’s – OMG?
Cory [10:42] Yeah what is this. If we’re not fishing or fixing a motorbike or kicking the footy. You know, it’s you as a man, you never actually catching up to drink beer, like you’re catching up to speak with another person to connect.
Mark [10:59] It’s interesting, as you’re sharing and the term “presence” in the “not doing” – are we avoiding just an incredible state of presence?
Men Connecting to the ‘Presence’ of “Not Doing”Men Connecting to the 'Presence' of 'Not Doing'Click To Tweet
Cory [11:14] Yeah, like the ability to just sit with another. And that comes back eventually to be able to sit with yourself – to be comfortable with yourself. And I guess, when you do, say you were to walk out this room right now and go and just sit on the ground. And not with your legs crossed with the fingers in the arm position just to sit there. Would you be comfortable sitting there in silence for 10 minutes? Like for a lot of people and even like myself, and I think, no. Because you’re going have to sit there and be with your thoughts for a little bit and if you’re anxious and stressed and there’s a lot going on, that’s going be really hard to actually do. But if your mind is constantly concentrating on other things, then you’re not actually ever been able to do that. Which is probably really an issue.
Men’s over-analytical Mind
Mark [12:10] And I’m wondering, what impact that busy mind – that busy intellectual mind has on our connections to ourselves and our connection to others?
Cory [12:22] Yeah, I think basically, you’re not actually managing and reflecting. You are not taking the time to do it. And you’ll probably look back in three or four years’ time and feel like you’ve either been on autopilot or you’ve missed a big chunk of life. You might – you’ll probably be emotionally fatigued, to be honest. I think there are obvious masking agents that do that. Like alcohol and drugs and stuff. Just work and being that – and letting that into your life is also masking really what’s really going on for you?
Men’s Anger & Rage a Masking Agent
Mark [13:02] Can men’s anger and rage be a masking agent?
Cory [13:06] Yeah, I absolutely think it can be. I think, as men our ability to emotionally regulate is something that actually can be learned and you can get better at it. I like to always say, like – do you want to feel like that. You know, that angry. And how long does it take for you to feel better after you have that feeling? It’s not a nice feeling and your body goes into – for a week after, you’d be still feeling impacted by feeling like that. I think, just to get angry about something rather than actually deal with it. I’m a big fan of when you do get angry, just trying to understand the other person – like why? If they’ve just walked up and a random person’s yelled at you in the street – instead of being angry – just be like, wow what’s going on for you? That would make you just yell at me like that. There must be some really horrible things and when you have an understanding of another – becomes very hard to get angry at other people because you almost feel sorry for them straight away. And you want to help and I think that’s where understanding is where – that kind of starts.
Mark [14:23] I wonder whether it’s a lot of the male social conditioning that’s facilitated men’s emotional dysregulation?
Cory [14:32] Yeah, I think it probably would be – to be honest. It’s like we were saying before – the fact that you’re told as a young boy, to man up and not to cry and to be tough. It’s probably got a lot to do with that. It’s a long game to overturn those things. But like I’m saying, to have resilience and to be strong is not a bad thing.
Connecting to Our Spirit Warrior
Mark [14:59] With men. I call that the Spirit warrior. The energy of the Spiritual Warrior is able to hold that space. Has that resilience but also has an inner connection to themselves. And they are very in check with it. It’s a very empowering place to be. Not having power over – it’s having sharing power with. And the power comes from a deeper source within the self?
Cory [15:26] Yeah and it’s easy sometimes to just get angry. You know it’s probably the easiest path to be honest.
Mark [15:34] Habitual?
Can Men be Lost in Anger?
Cory [15:35] Yeah, just like – I’ll just get angry about this. I won’t deal with it. I won’t understand you, I’ll just yell at you.
Mark [15:41] Bringing the conversation to connect to others. How does Cory notice and process and connect? What’s his? How does he do it?
Cory [15:53] Again, going back to just understand I’m a really big fan of a particular book, “The Heart of the Buddhas Teaching” by Nich That Hanh. I think a lot of my philosophy probably comes from that book. It’s the understanding another person is how I actually connect to another person. Is just ask, why are they acting in that particular way, whether it be happy or angry or sad. And when you have an understanding of another, you all of a sudden you don’t react in any kind of, I guess dramatic way. You’re acting always in a compassionate way, which is – I think, if everybody kind of at least attempted to do that, it would be a very beautiful world.
Connecting to Compassion
Mark [16:50] Compassion? Do you believe that comes from your heart or where do you believe that comes from in your being?
Cory [17:01] For me, where does it come from? It’s a really good question because, like, for me, it’s just – it’s somewhere so deep within, in my whole philosophy. Around probably like social justice and in fairness and equity. And I’ve spoken to other people about this. For me, it’s almost the fact that I can’t stand other people devaluing and getting one over more vulnerable people. I can’t stand it. And it’s something so deep within me, it drives me – to care and to do those things.
Men Disconnecting to Vulnerability
Mark [17:52] I’m wondering whether they’re disowned their own vulnerability that they need to have power over others?
Cory [17:58] Yeah, well that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s funny when you look at some ideologies and some – I guess in particular contexts and stuff, more severe context. Maybe there’s some sort of place when there’s survival but not in our society.
Mark [18:20] And it’s really wonderful that the Professor of social work, I think she’s in Texas Brene Brown, she talks about there being carried in vulnerability. For men, I’m wondering whether if we can start to change the ideology and begin to see there are power and courage in our vulnerability. Sharing our vulnerability with each other, not to have power over each other. We’ve all got a vulnerability.
Cory [18:50] Yeah and to think that some people aren’t vulnerable, even if they don’t appear is bullshit, basically, isn’t it? Like really, everyone’s got vulnerabilities and fears and anxieties. Some people just have a better ability to look like they’re dealing with everything.
Connecting as a Community
Mark [19:08] And as a community connecting together, how would we then address the collective vulnerability in that community connection?
Cory [19:19] Yeah, well, I think it’s just admitting that it’s fragile. And I think like this week, in particular, we talked about the virus before starting the podcast. Democracy is fragile, social connection is fragile. Health is fragile. The economy is fragile and these – some of them are man – a person made constructs. And, you know, at the end of the day, we have to actually care for those things that we have that that is important to us. Whether it is our health, whether it is social connection, or whether it is the economy. It’s very fragile, and you have to care about these things. Like we’ve seen this week, things can really turn around fast – as a socially conscious, it can breed anxiety. But I think when you move through these types of things, and together and hopefully, we can kind of – be more aware in the future.
Connecting Collectively & Making A Difference
Mark [20:29] I wonder collectively – if we can collectively, can we then make a difference? Instead of siloing it within an individual fear and an individual? We’ve all got those fears. And if we collectively connect, be open-hearted and open-minded about each and every individual fear. Whether collectively we can make a difference?
Cory [20:53] Yeah, I definitely would hope that. I think that the last, not to go into too much theory, but the last 25 years of like, pretty solid neoliberal policies and individualism has created a bunch of individuals that see each other as competitors within society. So, for an 18 or 19-year-old, competes for job security, competes for housing, competes for and at the moment competing for food. Competing, constant competition. And that’s kind of what I feel like the government kind of wants us to compete so that we strive for more, but what it’s done is broken down that ability to be a collective, and that’s what’s quite concerning to me.
Mark [21:45] And the ability to connect to each other?
Disconnecting through Competition
Cory [21:47] Yeah, 100%. We don’t, we’re not connecting as well, because we’re almost seeing each other is, well, I’m in competition with you. If I was to take that time to connect then how I might be giving up that time to get on top of you sort of thing. I think again, what the last couple of weeks has kind of shown us – I think I’m now realising we’re all actually in this together. So yeah, it’s important for us to actually work together through this type of stuff as a collective. As a society, just to bring the anxiety level down a little bit – just kind of perpetuate it don’t you really.
Connecting to ‘All That Is’
Mark [22:31] We do. Moving the conversation through to the ‘All That Is’ – the ‘All That Is” – is whatever that is to you. The Buddha-nature within. How do you find yourself connecting to your ‘All That Is,’ whatever that is for you?
Cory [22:47] Yeah, I guess it’s in those – for me, it’s in those moments. Do you know what I mean – when you’re in nature when you’re with family and you really like – you take a deep breath and you just like, this is nice. Do you know what I mean?
Mark [23:03] As you’re sharing it with me, what was happening in your body as you’re connecting to that?
Cory [23:08] Yeah, like, I guess even you know, on the weekend I was down the Southwest on the coast with family. Just at the beach. It was windy, it was wet. The winds cold on your face and you just you’re actually just taking in and you’re saying like – right now is as good as it gets.
Men Connecting Deeper within Ourselves
Mark [23:29] Do you come within – you know do you deepen within yourself?
Cory [23:34] I think oh, absolutely I think. I think in times when you’re at work or you’re rushing around, you can actually move back to that space and just say ‘that’s actually what it’s all about.’ And that’s what I work towards to have you know, and just to be there.
Mark [23:52] I call that anchoring back in there. When you anchor back in there, what do you notice happens in your body your mind and your heart?
Cory [24:02] I think it slows, you know, things slow again. You get a little bit of, I guess, about what’s actually important. It just drags you back to actual reality. What is important really for me is connection to nature and connection to family and love. I think physically you slow back down – your mind slows a little bit.
Mark [24:34] Do you come into alignment?
Connecting to the Peace of Nature
Cory [24:37] I think so. Like probably not to the point where you would if you were in that – that takes a lot of practice.
Mark [24:45] When you’re out in nature, what happens to Cory out in nature?
Cory [24:51] In nature?
Mark [24:53] In nature.
Cory [24:53] Like again, I just think you just slow down a little bit. And you kind of just see what’s important? I lived in Adelaide for a long time. I didn’t have a car. Do you what I mean? I was a chef. And then, I probably went a couple of years without even leaving the city. And then one day, I was like, “what am I doing? You know, what is this? Like, I haven’t. And I just not you know, I drove back out to where I kind of grew up and you know, looked up, watched the sunset, looked up at the stars, and I was like, this is insane. This is what it’s actually all about. So yeah, just taking and just like, ‘Ah, yeah and that sometimes it’s just that moment.
Mark [25:21] Does your sense of self when you’re out in the bush like that, out in nature? Does your sense of self dissolve? Do you – all the social constructs that we make, all the thinking, all the – does it just dissolve just for that moment? It’s like you merge in – merge with nature?
Cory [25:59] Yeah. I think so.
Connecting to the Flow-state of Surfing
Mark [26:01] When you’re out surfing, you’re on that board. You’re on that wave. How much of the flow-state? Are you are your part of that wave?
Cory [26:13] Yeah, I think 100% I think you’re never more present, then. Lucky for people who surf. You’re never more present than when you are actually on that wave. And I think taking the time as well when you’re just sitting out there just to shout out, turn it off. Just have a look back at the beach and just be like, just in a little bit inspired. It’s super important. And yeah, when you’re on that wave, that’s the only thing you really thinking, isn’t it? It’s like you- just you’re thinking, I’m looking down. I’m thinking about pretty much the next move – I’m going to make. Thinking how much – wave do I have. Not thinking about anything else. And it’s a really lucky place to kind of to be. Not everyone surfs, but I think everyone hopefully has that thing for him?
Flow-state of Surfing a Reboot
Mark [27:01] Is it an amazing reboot?
Cory [27:04] Oh yeah, it’s like it’s almost like a drug really? Isn’t it? Like you come in? And you know, my wife’s like, you know, three hours later my wife’s like, “what’s going on with you”? And I’m just like – I just went for a surf and she’s like, “oh yeah.” When you haven’t got out for a while, or you haven’t actually gone for a walk through the scrub or something like that. I think sometimes you don’t even notice it until you’re like shit, got to get out there and do it.
Mark [27:32] And it’s really interesting in this question – that in a lot of the conversations, when people connect to that ‘All That Is,’ doesn’t matter whether it’s through surfing, or nature, or bike riding – when they’re in that space, I asked them what happens to your mental health and your emotional health when you’re in there?
Connecting to ‘All That Is’ improve our Well-being
Cory [27:50] Yeah, there’s a spike. There’s an improvement. Like, every single time, how many times do you – I think the question is more like – how many times do you go for a surf and come back feeling worse? Not very often. Or how many times do you go for a bushwalk and come out feeling worse or go for a walk with you are kids and you feel worse? Most of the time you come back and you feeling a lot better than when you went in?
Mark [28:21] What would happen if we were able to bottle that and use it as a pharmaceutical?
Cory [28:26] I think people would overdose, to be honest. And then Big Pharma would make the rich would only have access. I think that’s – isn’t that capitalism?
Mark [28:37] But it is there. It is – we can bottle it. Except the bottling is taking our human form into it and reconnecting to it. And I’m wondering, yeah, what impact that would have on the well-being and the overall connectedness to us as human beings in this busy world?
Cory [28:59] Yeah. If I think we’re lucky enough in Australia that we even have, we get to have this conversation about actually taking the time to be present. And to be like that. I think there’s a large contingent of the world’s population, probably just in survival mode. So the fact that we get to have this conversation, I feel pretty privileged to have that. Yeah, you know, be a much happier place.
Mark [29:28] Is there any advice that you would offer young men coming through? From the lessons learned of connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is’?
Advice for you men – Use a Mentor
Cory [29:40] Yeah, I think it’s like for me, it was like, finding those, I guess, probably, particularly men, but people that are probably a little older than you. Finding and even if it’s not actively saying you’re going to be my mentor. But just asking questions and saying like, what – I mean, it’s been a few people in my life that were like – you should read this book, Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist or something like that. Something by Tolstoy or something like Huxley or something that – changes you a little bit. And, I think you have those people when they kind of give you a little bit of direction that probably would have taken you a lot longer to work out. But just I guess, when you’re in particularly teenagers, being really aware and that those people around you that I’ve got just a wealth of knowledge that they’ve built up over time, and there are people that lead you astray as well. You know, that’s life. But, I think listening to those people, super important and sometimes – like I’m in my 30s – I’ve only worked it out recently that there were people in my life that were really important. And I’m saying, some of these people in my life fraction – somewhat but really important in moving one way or the other and allowing me to do what I want to do, pretty much.
Thank You for the Connection
Mark [31:15] It’s really lovely to be able to connect with you as a male today, to begin to have for men to start to explore these sorts of conversations – to connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is.’ I think if we men can really start connecting deep within ourselves, connecting to that innate spirit essence, which is power. It’s not power over – its power within. I think we can move and shift a lot of the social consciousness and a lot of that old toxic masculinity that has been around. We can make a change to that and look forward to younger men taking that changing that old challis into a newly enriched chalice.
Cory [32:04] Yeah, I hope so. Like you’re saying, it is a full social, conscious kind of shift. And it’s a societal shift. And, you know, to be honest, probably not ever going to happen in my generation. But I think, if we can just continue to set the groundwork for the next generation, hopefully, my kids – I teach my young girl to, to be fierce and to not take a crap. And I teach my young boy to be respectful. And that’s really that’s all I can really do. The rest is up to them, I guess.
Mark [32:41] Well done Cory.
Cory [32:42] Thank you very much.
Mark [32:43] Lovely to meet you and lovely to have the conversation with you.
Cory [32:45] Yeah.
Mark [32:46] Namaste.
Cory [32:46] Thank you very much – been great.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai