Reinvigorating Manhood and How We Talk About it, With Gregory Koufacos
More than ever before, young men fail to reach their potential, falling into drug addiction, depression, and disarray. It’s probably not hard to think of a young man you know with a bright light who’s failed to make the most of his life, falling into bad habits repeatedly. Today’s guest, addiction counselor Gregory Koufacos believes it’s an epidemic––and he has controversial methods to take it on.
The problem, Gregory tells me, is that men ages eighteen to thirty-five are failing to emerge from boyhood into manhood. Manhood, as he defines it, is creating a life of your own, a life that is enjoyable and fulfilling. Like a woman’s biological clock ticks away at her ability to have a child, a man has a biological clock ticking away his window for entering manhood. That’s not to say manhood can’t start at an older age, but windows of opportunities do begin to close as men grow.
Filling The “Male Womb”
To Gregory, men have what he calls a “male womb.” Instead of giving birth to a child like a woman might, he gives birth to his own life. He has the ability to create a fulfilling existence, but if he doesn’t fill the womb with something creative and positive, it’ll become artificially filled with cars, drugs, video games, empty relationships, or other unfulfilling distractions. Gregory says, men need to take initiative to manifest something good for themselves using what they have inside.
Many men, especially those Gregory works with in his private practice, fall into a cycle of substance abuse and low self esteem instead of leading a life with passion and vigor. His goal is to make young men see that there’s a happy, rewarding life waiting for them should they choose to accept it. As a counselor, he believes the most essential quality of a good mentor is the ability to understand the joys of being alive––To be living life to the highest ability in the truest echelons of happiness.
Attending Your Own Funeral
Greg and I get into some of Gregory’s more polarizing methods for approaching troubled young men. We discuss a patient we’ll call “Brad,” who’s life was going nowhere fast. Gregory decided to perform for him a mock funeral, in which his friends and family came together, bringing childhood photographs, reflecting on his life up to that point. The exercise was controversial among Gregory’s peers, but it really forced this guy to confront his mortality and life choices. It made him wonder what would happen if he never quit drugs, overdosed, or failed to progress with his life.
Gregory emphasizes the importance of being controversial when needed. He’s worried that we’re often too nice, or we do things too by the book. If we’re not afraid to shake things up, we’ll never be as productive or challenging. Gregory’s academic peers frequently compare his career to conventional therapists who take the well-trodden steps instead of the less-travelled path.
Case Study: Born in a Crackhouse
Sometimes, the process can be long as our problems can deeply plague us. Gregory discusses another one of his patients, a seventeen year old boy who grew up in a crackhouse. He saw countless disturbing sights and endured endless trauma. To avoid the pain of the abuse from his crackhead parents, he shut down his bonding mechanisms, separating himself from others like a recluse.
While it helped him survive his painful childhood, he carried it with him into his adult life, ingraining trust issues. In this episode, Gregory reveals how he taught this boy to learn to love and be loved again.
Loving relationships are essential to figuring out who we are, says Gregory. We’re more than just our bodies and our minds, we’re made of our relationships with others too. That’s why Gregory takes his patients outside and into social environments. He connects with them as a mentor and helps them understand how they can live a joyous, fulfilling life too.
The Trick to Teaching Manhood
Rather than sit his clients down in a stuffy room and talk them through the steps of recovery, Gregory opts to take them into the world outside and do something different. Often, having a fun public outing in the park or the city. To Gregory, the best way to help someone break free from a dark path is to show them that there is a happier, more fulfilling alternative.
No troubled boy is going to evolve into manhood if his family, friends, or therapist try to rush him into making a change. You need to connect, bond, and understand their ambitions before you can communicate with them on an honest, trustworthy, and well-informed level. That’s the joy in the process, Gregory argues. In his eyes, human connection is what makes life so beautiful. He tries to teach men this same notion, so that they can get out of their ruts and start living life to the fullest.
I know that turning your life around is a process, so I spoke with Gregory about my meth abuse recovery, and how it’s essential to celebrate the small milestones and have patience. We can’t control all the craziness coming our way, but we can open ourselves up to the happiness dormant inside us. Wake up that fire within!
A Warm Thank You to Gregory Koufacos
Helping young men stay on the right path can be challenging, but Gregory is an expert at offering support and intervention. He believes that showing boys how to find loving, rewarding experiences will lead them to manhood instead of addiction. To hear more of Greg’s unconventional approaches to counseling males, tune in to the full version of the episode by subscribing, or learn about Greg’s work at Gowiththebro.com.