Updated: Jan 9
These days it seems like I can't scroll through Instagram without coming across some buff guy with a deep masculine voice talking about how he uses psychedelics to "performance hack", or "optimize" and "boost" anything ranging from endurance to creativity. When did psychedelics become the latest flex in broformance culture?!
We live in a society that puts unimaginable pressure on individuals, especially men, to perform. In a capitalist system where most of us have internalized the false and dangerous narrative that the value and success of an individual are tied to their ability to perform, produce, and earn, we are encouraged to bypass our physical and emotional well-being, and at times even our humanity, in order to "perform". The result is a chronically depressed, anxious, and isolated population. While this burden is carried by everyone, it disproportionately impacts men's health and well-being.
What the "woke" commentators often characterize as "toxic masculinity" is in large part a byproduct of "toxic performance" or what I call "broformance" culture where men are encouraged to be in constant competition for MORE yet it is never enough because just like there is no cap to growth in a capitalist system, there is no point of absolute accomplishment and enoughness no matter the cost.
I often jokingly (maybe not so much jokingly) say that "hacking sounds a lot like fracking!". Much like how we are ignoring the vast impact of fracking on environmental destabilization in search of boosting profits, we are also systemically ignoring our bodies' voice and need for balance, rest, and restoration in an endless effort to hack our way to more focus, more energy, more productivity, more endurance, and more and more and more...
At a time when this toxic performance culture has resulted in not only mass mental and physical dysfunction but also an alarmingly high and growing rate of suicide in men, psychedelic medicines hold great potential for course correction on both the macro and micro levels in the society yet the very solution to this predicament is being actively weaponized to reinforce the same old extractive values that have fueled the dysfunctions that have gotten us here in the first place.
Am I suggesting that no one should microdose for focus and productivity? Of course not! I personally really enjoy my creative flow and focus while microdosing however much like many things in the psychedelic world, nuance is key. It is not the "what" but the "why" and the "how" that matters. When we approach psychedelic microdosing through a mindful and intentional lens, as many indigenous cultures and scientific pioneers intended, we are invited into a journey of discovery, presence, awareness, attunement, and wisdom. The key questions to ask here are "Am I approaching this practice through an extractive or regenerative lens?", "Am I listening and responding to my body's needs so it can be better resourced for optimal focus or am I pushing my body's boundaries to do more, accomplish more, and feel more worthy?".
The truth is that both approaches will get you there but while one will deliver you there faster, the other will deliver you there more reliably and sustainably over the long run. This is the fundamental problem with the broformance culture; it inevitably betrays the individual. Every week I work with predominantly male clients who are by our society's standards extremely successful, all of them have arrived at their success by "pushing through limits" but inevitably one day they find themselves exhausted, burned out, anxious, and depressed, some unfortunately with chronic or even terminal health conditions.
The problem of men's mental health in our society is neither a problem of motivation, nor stamina; it's a problem of value and belief systems. Values that have systemically produced disembodied humans disconnected from their emotions and their body signals who are fed the lie that their value is inherently tied to their results and that success is an actual destination rather than a moving target that constantly leaves the individual exhausted and collapsed at yet another mirage of enoughness. During a time like this, we don't need "hacks" to do more but rather SOLUTIONS to connect more and feel more.
Microdosing, when approached in a mindful and intentional manner, is a profound vehicle for deepening connection with the body, mind, and spirit in cohesive balance and union. It is an invitation to presence, subtlety, and embodiment reconnecting the individual with their holistic wisdom so they move through life in deeper communion with themselves, spirit, nature, and others.
Mindful Microdosing offers a powerful container for slowing down, noticing how different inner and outer influences impact our experience, and taking steps to restore harmony and balance to the body, mind, and spirit. When we are resourced from our very foundation, we don't need to reach for "hacks" to access peak performance states. This is indeed a more deliberate, mindful, and slower path to achieve peak performance but once we've learned how to replenish and support our inner reserves, we achieve regenerative performance and are liberated from the need to be constantly compensating for our stretched, overworked, and overwhelmed capacity with investing in the fix-du-jour sold to us by the broformance gurus.
Very often, as individuals who have been living chronically disconnected from their bodies begin to connect through Mindful Microdosing, they move through a grief process as they rekindle ignored, denied, and abused parts of themselves. This is the essence of integration: to recall all parts into a new whole union. Psychedelics are here to facilitate this critical homecoming so more of us live, love, and lead from a deeply secure, sustainable, and regenerative space in service to a healthier, kinder, and more balanced society.
The time for the old toxic paradigm of pushing beyond our limits is over. The real radical courage is in mindful listening, attuning, feeling, and tending to the voice of our bodies as we learn to stretch not stress our nervous systems and make it a habit to stop and savor the present moment where true fulfillment lies.