OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — When Dan Doty was 22, by chance, he took a job as a “wilderness therapy guide” — a supervisor in a programme for troubled young men.
For years, he camped with these men in emotional pain — the “bullies, addicts and perpetrators,” Doty calls them — and learned about why they lashed out the way they did.
“These boys were certainly displaying all kinds of toxic behaviour,” he told the BoF VOICES audience on Friday. “So I’ve spent my life following this energy to its source, and the answer is clear: hurt people hurt people.”
This was why, in 2016, Doty co-founded Evryman, a company that organises meetings and retreats to help men connect with their emotions. Since then, Evryman meetings spread across the globe.
The formula, he said, is simple. “Our work isolates two specific pain points — emotional repression and social isolation,” Doty explained. “For centuries, men have been conditioned to bottle up their feelings... This is the secret pain that fuels the violence.
We teach men to slow down, feel their feelings, and express themselves with vulnerability.
“And the fix is simple,” he added. “We teach men to slow down, feel their feelings, and express themselves with vulnerability.”
Doty recalls a particular meeting, one attended by his father.
“My dad always supported me, he always loved me but I hated him [because of] the way he would speak to my mom” Doty said.
At this retreat, one exercise resulted in Doty and his father standing in the center of a circle among 60 men, making prolonged and uncomfortable eye contact.
“I thought I would have felt anger, I thought I would have wanted to rage at him,” Doty recalls, “But none of that happened, it simply wasn’t there. I felt only one thing, wild, overwhelming love.”
It had turned out that his father had been suicidal all his life.
“The world is burning and men are frozen,” Doty said. “But we have everything we need to unfreeze them… Healthy men do not purposefully hurt people, they love, they give and they serve.”
To learn more about VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.