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Healthy Masculinity: Why Being a “Good Man” Is Not Enough

This opens up a looking glass into the male mind and the interactions of his persona with his environment. This elevates himself in a self-seeking and self-serving manner over and above everything else while in pursuit of his intentions.

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That can be true on one hand and on the other, he likes to be viewed as a “good man”, a good Samaritan ready to extend his hand to those in need. However, deep inside himself, an inner conflict boils. While doing this, he resents the action and possibly himself, as he views it as weakening his own sense of person in the world and how he may be viewed by his peers by being dependent on others instead of being able to exist all by himself and be perceived as self sufficient and self reliant. If these interactions with others are sustained, there comes a point where this type of man becomes so frustrated that he bow becomes reactive.

While an observer can see that as being hyper-selfish, the person with a more insightful, patient and grounded outlook mentally, physically and emotionally, may witness a man out of balance. Giving “too much” and not giving to himself. Still well intentioned but his actions misplaced as opposed to being unsociable.

It takes great discipline to forget one’s needs over that of others. In society this role has largely been given to the mother archetype and typically associated with women and the feminine who are innately imbued with self-sacrifice. This virtue is often overlooked by men as they engage themselves in a challenging dog-eats-dog world in chasing their own place, a higher strata well above most of their peers. Many men and the collective values of society have viewed women as less than with nothing substantial to offer. We have been mistaken here as a collective. Threatened by what we have chosen not to understand.

The immature man tends to blame everything, everyone for his failure and seldom accept responsibility for himself. This macho image he has projected into the world has determined how he conducts himself and interacts with the people around him. He is abrasive, aggressive and difficult to interact with. The truth is he needs others in order thrice and co-exist in order to live a worthwhile life in this world. But, most of the time, he doesn’t realize this because he has encased himself in a bubble with no need to interact with the outside world. 

While it can be surmised that that person may have grown in a largely oppressive environment e.g., being exposed to abandonment by abusive parents, etc., he grows into becoming a troubled child not believing in healthy relationships well into his adulthood. Hence, the blame on others but never on himself.

Here are just some ways we can begin to embrace healthy masculinity in our lives and relationships:

1. Explore traditional rites of passage.

Men need cultural rites of passage to help them transition from boys to men. This comprises overcoming challenges, solitude practice, being resourceful and resilient, reflection of life’s purpose, and being welcomed back to reality as a man by other men and peers as a new person.

In our modern society, it is crucial that young men (or sometimes even adult men) have strong support by other men whom they revere and respect when transitioning from old, unsustainable versions of self to their new and improved ways of being.

2. Practice humility: know you have a sword but don’t need to use it.

For far too long, men have and are taking advantage of their gifts and strengths but not in the healthiest of ways. This needs to change. Sharpening our skills but practicing humility is not only a healthy practice to indulge in for improving your bonds within society and for building trust, but it is also attractive as hell.

3. Create healthy outlets for expression by tempering rage and anger

This means not taking out your frustration on the people who are dear to you. Avoid projecting, blaming, and shaming others.

Boxing, exercise, sharing in a group of men, being out in nature, creating regular healthy challenges all contribute to healthy outlets for releasing, understanding, and dealing with anger so that you can grow from it and not harbor it.

4. Do your inner work and be responsible for your actions.

Be in contact with your inner world regularly. Spend five minutes reflecting on your experiences, who you have been, what you could have done differently, and how you did (or did not) show up.

Deciding and realizing that you are in control is empowering. No one else is responsible for your feelings and how you show up in the world but yourself. Doing our inner work means making the changes we need to make in order to live the life we desire to live.

5. Surround yourself with other healthy men.

This is SO important! We live such “busy” lives that we have forgotten our roots which is human contact. For men, this means forging identity through challenge amongst healthy male peers who will call us forward.

Join a sporting club, create a men’s group, travel regularly with other men into nature, go on men’s retreats, and make friendships with other men within close physical proximity. Whatever the contact, do it!

6. Know your value and vision.

This comes down to self-worth and clarity in purpose. In order to value ourselves, we must clear the clutter and/or trauma of the past. To know our value, we must believe in our capabilities. 

Surround yourself with people who see your worth and who can communicate that to you so you can begin to embody it at a deeper level. Here, you will gain the clarity you require to live a fulfilling life.

7. Contribute to your community.

Giving is receiving. The more we give from a place within us that feels full, the more we get. But here is the catch. Do not give with an intention to receive. Just give. The natural byproduct of this is feeling better within ourselves.

This may look like donating your time as a coach to your child’s sporting team, volunteering at a homeless shelter, being proactive and offering to massage your wife’s feet, giving your time or resources to a charity, or organizing a team-building event at your workplace just because. Whatever your giving is, let it come from the heart.

8. Visiting your shadows regularly means knowing your edges.

I get it. This is tough. Visiting the uncomfortable, rejected by society or neglected parts of us is not easy. 

I suggest being surrounded by people who can support you exploring these painful aspects of self—a counselor, a men’s group, a coach, a shaman, a therapist, and even close friends who can hold non-judgmental space for all of your feelings.

Allowing regular space to explore these neglected parts of your psyche can be a relationship saver as they keep us more open as opposed to shutting down and bottling everything up inside.

9. Be competent and confident in your body.

There is nothing more attractive than a man who is confident in his body. This demonstrates competency, trust, discipline, ability, and honor in one’s self. When a man makes the effort to look after himself and know himself he can be more trustworthy because he cares about himself enough to be healthy.

10. Explore the unknown with openness and prowess.

Exploration has been the domain of humanity since the dawn of our time. We are where we are because of the risks we have taken. The willingness to explore unchartered territories.

Reflect actively upon your existential place in this world, study history, the arts, and anything new that interests you.Go beyond your comfort zone by engaging in new hobbies and learning new skills. Get into the unknown — grow and thrive!

My own journey to becoming a healthier man started with taking ownership and responsibility for my own actions, inner thoughts, and beliefs. Through this radical responsibility, I was able to grow as a man, community member, brother, friend, leader, and partner. You can, too.

One is glad to be of service.

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