In today’s episode, I’m talking with Sean Galla, founder and facilitator at MensGroup, an organization born out of a mission to create community and conversation where guys feel comfortable sharing what’s really happening in their lives. Over 10 years ago, Sean was living what looked like a dream life from the outside, but in reality, he was facing a number of challenges and some of the lowest lows of his life. It was in this dark night of the soul that he went in search of a men’s group. After not finding any that met his needs, he created his own.
What to Listen For:
- What does Sean Galla do?
“I run men’s groups, for normal guys who just want to have a chat, over at mensgroup.com. I joined a men’s group. I found it to be very beneficial to my life.
And when I asked my friends why they didn’t want to get into it, it’s because they thought they were kooky or for losers. I was like, that’s weird, it feels like a tool that’s for a winner. So I looked around and all these men’s groups are online, doing chanting or had adopted first nations names or blowing Sage with our wings and stuff like that.
And I was like, that’s cool, but I can see why people are put off by this. I can see why men find it intimidating. And there was nobody who was doing an approachable group for guys to just want to talk about their lives, not necessarily do heavy emotional work or cry and sing kumbaya or anything like that, just share what’s going on and so that’s what we have going on over at mensgroup.com.”
- What was Sean’s like before MensGroup?
“I was living in Mexico at the time, I had fallen in love with a woman and we moved down there and what looked like a lovely life on Facebook turned into a challenging time for me, because I felt quite isolated. Even though I had friends down there I could surf with, I felt quite alone and alone with my challenges alone, with my thoughts. And, it was a beautiful time, but I realized I could use some support.”
- Breaking out of a culture that makes it difficult for men to admit they need help
- How Sean realized he loved the camaraderie of sharing with other men
“I was more of an, A- type kid growing up, a competitive hockey player. And I love that comradery in the dressing room and being able to talk about, stuff after the game. it’s like after you’d been to battle with a guy or had shared an experience with a guy, that’s when guys would open up a little bit and talk about their relationships or, talk about how to be a better father or whatever it was that they were going through.
Then after my hockey career, if you want to call it that, ended, I was out on my own. I realized there was a lack of that. And then it wasn’t until I moved down to Mexico and then felt really isolated, that I realized that, wow, I really missed that.”
- Getting dragged to his first men’s group by a friend and not really wanting to go
How going to a men’s group helped him break through some issues he was having in his own life
“I found it so great to just be able to bring those somewhere, that’s not my partner or my family work through them and then bring the fruits of that back to my life.”
- The moment that felt like the lowest low
“The lowest low for me was probably getting sick. I just burnt out. I burnt myself out. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was working too hard and trying to deal with the emotions of a breakup by chasing other women and trying to be a high-achieving person and in my career and traveling along and partying and ended up, coming down with a chronic illness.
I spent a couple of years in bed basically, and that was the lowest of low. That was the darkest of the dark. And, yeah, I reached for any tool I could to get support during that time.”
- Sean gets honest about his motivations to be constantly improving
“Honestly, I’m not even sure that it comes from a good place. It could come from a place of trying to fill a void, like needing to be somebody who’s high-achieving and needing to be successful by my own terms and stuff; it might be an insecurity.
- What it was like for Sean to create something different for himself and his life
“It feels so difficult. It’s you hit rock bottom, you get inspired. Then three days later you’re faced with your own habits and your own like neurological hard wiring and stuff like that. It’s just really difficult to create change in your life.
But I feel like that now, I feel like that is the only journey we can be on. That is the true hero’s journey, right? It’s mastering that stuff within ourselves. And those issues, we run into our emotional hangups in those kinds of things. So yeah, for me, it was a process of really, taking it day by day.”
- What Sean’s biggest obstacle was prior to MensGroup
“For me, my biggest demon, so to speak, has always been low self-worth. And so my default has been to kick myself around and to take whatever’s happening in my life, good or bad, and then use it as evidence to prove that I’m not good enough.
And so you had in those moments when you’ve hit a low or you’re going through a tough time and you’re, it was just so easy for me to compare myself to others or to beat up on myself and be like, ah, you’re such a loser or whatever, and so that was a big part of the journey for me was actually, and that was the big turning point for me.
I think my overall journey thus far has been like, actually rebuilding that self-worth and changing that internal narrative, that voice in my head is now much more of a cheerleader. And now I’m at the point where I don’t really collapse into the beating myself up low self-worth thing anymore, but it’s been like a, five or 10-year journey.”
- Sean’s advice for men who are wrestling with internal demons
“It comes out in different ways for everybody and nobody’s talking about it. So you either deal with it or you don’t, and this is the perception, that things like therapy or spiritual practices or working with somebody like you is weakness when in reality, I think hiding from that stuff is weakness.
Pretending everything’s fine when it’s not is weakness. What’s masculine and strong is to, recognize and acknowledge that you could use some polishing up in an area and then go find tools that’ll help you do that.”
- The role of mentors in MensGroup
“Guys are joining because they don’t have healthy male role models. They don’t really have any mentors and maybe they didn’t have one growing up. Maybe they did have one, but it wasn’t a healthy situation similar to mine. Or perhaps they’ve just become isolated in their adulthood and they don’t have anybody to look to.
And so I personally, haven’t been able to find any like one size fits all mentors. I’ve been able to pick and choose from books and podcasts and, maybe ritual for health or Ryan holiday for philosophy, and maybe this person for emotional intelligence and whatever.
But, what I’ve seen in a resource like a men’s group, is that when you have 12 guys sitting in a circle, there’s always one or two guys who’ve been through it who can act almost as mentors by sharing their experience. And what they learned and will work for them and what didn’t work for them.
And so it’s almost like a done-for-you mentor makeshift situation that I find very useful.”
- Sean’s childhood and how it contributed to his adult life, his challenges, and his purpose
“I came from a household that was very loving and then the outside, it looked like the, Leave it to Beaver kind of family. But what you couldn’t see from the outside is that it was, like a lot of households of this generation, not an emotionally expressive place. And there was a lot of, disapproval. shaming, a lot of guilt-tripping. And so then I go out into the world with that as my default thing, thinking that I need to people please to earn love.”
- Unraveling and unlearning the things trapped in his subconscious since childhood
- Sean’s experience with somatic mediation
- Learning his emotions and leaning into them
- What stops a lot of men from revealing how they’re feelings
- All the areas that were affected by releasing the emotional pressure cooker that was in his body
“The more that I got that stuff out, the more I could just show up and actually enjoy the experience with feeling less anxiety and less sadness and less putting pressure on them to fill that void for me. That’s a big thing.”
- Other modalities that Sean tried on his journey to emotional wellbeing what worked – and what didn’t
- Resisting the big waves of emotion – feeling terrified, but doing it anyway
- How Sean’s persona journey of growth and healing work set him on the trajectory of the business and life he has today
“I actually resisted this con being a men’s group guy. The first organization I ran was a men’s group for entrepreneurs and I had an intention of being able to chat about business and life and stuff. But then after we’d ski together and the guys at bond, we’d sit in a circle and the first guy would be like, ‘my wife just had three miscarriages and I have no idea how to support her and she’s depressed and I’m feeling sad. What do I do?’ And he’d be crying.”
- Selling that business after he got sick, then trying all the other things while resisting the truth of his purpose until he could no longer get away from it
- Learning to listen to our internal compass and internal voice after all the things in our life quiet that voice
- A great qualifier for letting people into our lives
- The whisper inside of you that points you towards your purpose
- Pursuing the things that you’re drawn to
- Sean’s take on impact
About Sean Galla:
Sean spent his 20s pursuing his dreams as a professional DJ and serial entrepreneur. He lived in Mexico for 5 years where he learned Spanish and surfed every day. From the outside, it looked like he was living a dream life. In reality, along the way he faced:
- Bankruptcy from a failed business
- Family conflict
- An eating disorder
- Debilitating health challenges: chronic illness
- Emotional challenges: anxiety, depression & low self-worth
- Loved ones passing away
These adversities gave him depth and molded him into an ideal facilitator of men’s circles. This made him value community and meaningful conversations. Before MensGroup, Sean founded The Brotherhood a men’s group for entrepreneurs that focused on adventure trips.
Where you can find Sean:
Access our free 8-part Journey Mapping™ sampler program and begin uncovering the purpose of your path at www.TalesFromTheJourney.tv/Free/.
Read my memoir, Unravel: Rising Up and Coming Back from a Season of Living that Damn Near Killed Me at www.TheUnravelBook.com.