The Lost Art of Being a Man
Modern statistics are showing us that women in western cultures are thriving. People lie but statistics don’t and while women are getting advantages financially and educationally, men are dominating the statistics with suicide, homelessness, addiction, incarceration and failure to launch. Sure there are a lot of men out there doing very well for themselves but I write this from the perspective of a male that has found success and I will tell you, it has not come easy. My path and my story is one of a lot of serious hard work, hours and hours of dedication, repeated failure and massive sacrifice. Success can await the men that get their asses out and earn it but if they don’t they can likely face something far less glamorous. Men are far more likely to find themselves sleeping in doorways and on mats made from plastic shopping bags. It’s extremely easy for them to embody failure and live it.
Modern males don’t really know who or what they are supposed to be. As a therapist I see boys being raised primarily by moms who give them abysmally bad advice on how to be a man. I know a lot of great moms but even the best ones give them advice on how to be a good son which is entirely different from being a successful man that attracts really great women. I always see moms that advise their sons to never color outside the lines and to always be compliant and agreeable, traits that they want in a son when these are the not the traits that boys need in order to acquire profound success. I don’t care how great a mom is or how dedicated she is to her son’s success she’s not going to give away the secrets on what fires up their attraction and desire.
Too many dads are absent or they just take a backseat. They don’t understand the importance of their roles and influence on growing and maturing children and teens. Many of the fatherly traits that help give children confidence and courage have been labelled as toxic and I know there are countless father that have been cut out of their children’s lives because of family court which we all know highly favors women.
Males have become nomadic. They are disbanded and have been stripped of their male spaces. The starkest example of this is the boy scouts. Don’t get me wrong, I was basically forced into the boy scouts as a child and I don’t have any lost love for the BSA but it basically represents the official death of a space that has traditionally enabled the healthy development of male brotherhoods. So many modern males report that they struggle to make positive male friendships and avoid doing so when this has traditionally been a core component of male identity.
But what really gets me is how the loudest voices for how to be a real man are coming from women. Guys, women can’t tell you how to be a real man. There are mountains of documented research including brain scans done with comparing males and females and there are drastic differences between the sexes. I understand that there are those that would argue otherwise but there will always be those that ignore the evidence in lew of pushing their own narratives and agendas and I’m still trying to figure out why so many of us give so much credence to people who never demonstrated that they have it. Over the years I have continued to be astounded at those that seem to have acquired credibility only through methods that emotionally dominate.
In the 21st century, manhood has become a lost art but I would argue it’s not that lost. Not like ninjitsu or something like that but I think that we have to take into consideration that being a real man in the 21st century looks quite a bit different than it did say, 200 years ago and modern males are often left to find their own journey. There’s plenty of information out there for males to feed on, created by leaders in these movements who are often labelled as nefarious monsters with evil intentions.
Modern males are blamed for all of societies problems to the point of nausea and while it appears as though the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction but swinging where? Our modern age is uncharted territory and males still seem to have a big giant question mark hovering over their heads. They are waking up and growing tired of taking the blame. We didn’t have any choice in how we were born but we have a choice on what to do with it. We can be great if we choose greatness. Telling males, especially young ones, that they are monsters just because of how they were born is a monstrous thing to do. It’s time for males to walk their mile of self-discovery and while I know that task seems daunting, I hope to offer some road signs to point them in the right direction.
Walking Your Own Path and Blazing Your Own Trail
Venturing outside of our traditional group acceptance and identity is scary. If you’re reading this and you’ve gotten this far into this article I’d bet the farm that you aren’t that happy with how things have gone for you up to this point. True self-discovery requires you to exercise some courage and integrity which can sometimes make other people uncomfortable. You’ll figure out really fast who really cares about your happiness and who doesn’t. But when exercise your own integrity and remain true to yourself and start to grow and build your self-respect and the personal power that comes from it, you’ll start to understand identity and why it’s vastly important to remain true to yourself even though it can sometimes be lonely.
There is only one you, you are unique though not necessarily special. It’s vital to understand that what really works for one person does not necessarily work for you. In the course of my own self-mastery I’ve taken on dieting and weight loss which has taught many valuable things but for now the biggest take away is that I have had to figure out what works best for me and that is true for almost everything else. You have to figure out what works for you with the understanding that others will relate and others will not and both are okay.
The path to figuring out your powerful and authentic male identity is paved with courage. The most important element here is that courage isn’t the absence of fear but instead, it’s experiencing the fear and putting one foot in front of the other anyway. Fear cripples people and courage empowers them. When you exercise courage on a consistent basis, it will bolster you into being a true badass. I’m going to give you the best tip that I can for finding and exercising courage. Engage a positive support system. Lean on good supports and establish new ones. Let them support you and let go of this bullshit that asking for help is a weakness.
So what scares you? Failure? Rejection? Anger and backlash from others? Countless of others just like you have faced and overcome these fears. You can do it too.
Too many of us look to others to define us. Too many of us allow others to tell us who we are, what we are, if we have value if we’re capable and so on. Too many of us seek permission to really live. Too many of us are also afraid to walk our path because we’re afraid that we may discover horrible things about ourselves. We’re often afraid of discovering some ugly identity that has been hidden from us and too many of us have gotten it baked into us that because we are male, that monster resides deep in our psyche and it’s waiting in the dark, foaming at the mouth and ready to take over. We’ll cause harm without hesitation or regret.
Here’s my point. If you know yourself if you know who you are, what you’re really capable of and if you find the greatness within yourself and decide that is really who you are then that will be your truth. Sit down and write down your values and take some accountability for times when you let your behavior slip and you broke your values. It usually happens when we wanted to fit in or gain approval. Stay true to your values and you’ll gain the approval of the most important person in your life. Yourself. Decide right now that you can and will define yourself and you won’t let anybody else do it and your life will change.
Social justice bullies have listed stoicism as a trait that is consistent with toxic masculinity. If you ask me, anyone that labels stoicism as a bad thing is a person that should be avoided. Don’t listen to those people. Stoicism is a way of life that brings peace, harmony, composure and respect into your life. Learn to manage your emotions. Learn to think rationally and reasonably. If you don’t learn to manage your emotions, your emotions will manage you.
There are mountains of self-help material written about accountability and while I’m not going to try and re-invent the wheel here I also can’t leave this part out. This is quietly the most important component of personal improvement. Without personal accountability, you won’t get anywhere but you will stay where you are and remain miserable. If you don’t understand personal accountability then I would recommend taking this step. Learn about personal accountability and learn how to practice it. It will hurt at first and then it will empower you. There are plenty of podcasts, books and YouTube videos on this topic and the more you get busy on this part of your journey the more you’re likely to accelerate your personal progress.
Build Your Tribe
Guys need other guys around them to build them up and support them. There is incredible strength and positivity in healthy male friendships. Get rid of the victims, the complainers and the losers. Wish them the best while raising your glass to them but you will be the average of the friends that you keep around you. I’ve already touched a little bit on support systems but I firmly believe fellas that soldiers in world war 2 were able to storm the beaches at Normandy because they were with their brothers.
I know this is a lot of information and I know that this probably leaves you with more questions than answers but that’s why we have developed our field guides. Take your own hero’s journey, build your confidence, learn stoicism and more. We’re not going to leave you hanging to be sure to become a paid subscriber and get all the benefits from the community.