Are You Ready to Embrace Your Authentic Masculine Journey?
Good men support women’s empowerment, while those are often the same men who are (unconsciously) disempowering themselves and sometimes other men.
Every generation has looked back at the generation that came after them and thought some version of “oh my god, the hope of the world is on these people.” In a world where the transition from boyhood to manhood is often fraught with challenges and expectations, many men find themselves trapped in a struggle to meet the ideals set by others, particularly those imposed by family. This struggle is true for women, but in a different way than it is for men. Though intensely personal, this journey shares universal themes of self-discovery, boundary setting, and the pursuit of authenticity.
The Unspoken Struggle: A Tale of Self-Discovery
Imagine sitting in a dimly lit restaurant, the flicker of candles reflecting in your mother’s glasses across the table. This scene was not romance but a pivotal confrontation between a son and his mother. It was a moment of reckoning, a turning point in this man’s life.
That evening, as a thirty-something-year-old man confronted with the gravity of disappointing my mother, I felt the crushing weight of not meeting my mother’s expectations. I had reached a point where I could no longer sacrifice my own identity and needs to fulfill another’s expectations.
The Courage to Set Boundaries
The conversation that ensued was a terrifying and profoundly empowering assertion of self. I expressed my need for healthy boundaries, even with my mother. I’d always been the “good son,” so, as you can imagine, this declaration was met with resistance by my mother, who struggled to accept my newfound assertiveness.
My mom’s resistance was not coming from a place of malice. It was simply a reaction to the fact that I was changing the power dynamic, the “norm” of our relationship. I realized that from my perspective, my mom’s love seemed dependent on my compliance with her requirements. The cost to me was a devaluing of myself and a set of emotional wounds that would play out in all my relationships (professional and romantic), leaving me with a deep sense of loss.
The Realization of Self-Abandonment
My story is not unique; it highlights a common theme in many men’s lives – the constant effort to be the ‘ideal’ man for others, often at the cost of one’s soul. I had become clear that in my attempts to be the perfect partner in relationships, I was always trying to fix and please while neglecting his own emotional needs. The bolt of blinding awareness came when I recognized that this behavioral pattern stemmed from a deep-rooted desire to compensate for the shortcomings of the men in his mother’s life.
Case Study: Paul
Paul (not his real name) was one of the most successful and highly recognized leaders in his space. No one could have imagined that his internal life differed significantly from his persona.
On the surface, he had it all: Wealth, power, and authority. He was very kind, thoughtful, and likable. He’s been living in the best part of the city and driving the latest model of his preferred car brand.
To be clear, Paul was not a braggart; when I met him, he didn’t seem to be trying to impress me or anyone else. However, there came a moment in the evening when he and I sat away from others, and he asked me about the Emotional Source Code and how it might help his organization go to the next level.
We had a wonderful conversation, we exchanged contact information, and I just left it with him (I never do sales). About a week later, I heard from another long-term client, a client who knew Paul by about two or three degrees of separation. My client asked if it was okay to speak about their experience, and of course, I said yes, if you are comfortable.
Fast forward, Paul reached out and qualified to work with me. Paul discovered that in every strategic area of his business, he was operating at a level of maturity in alignment with his chronological age. However, he was stuck at about nine years old when dealing with conflict, both professionally and personally.
During his first 24 hours, he told me how he had been living his life as if someone was scoring his every interaction, and that “score” was based on whether he had won or lost. As you might guess, he looked a lot like a winner out in the world. While on the inside, he mostly felt like a loser.
Fast forward one year; Paul is still demonstrating all those positive traits I spoke about a few moments ago; the only difference is that he is now living with those disenfranchised parts of himself integrated into his being. Instead of just looking successful, he is now living a deeply meaningful life in service of his elicited Emotional Source Code purpose and sidebar. He has consistently grown his business since we started to work together.
The Awakening of Self-Worth
Only after that heart-wrenching and honest conversation with my mother did I realize the futility of chasing an illusionary ‘prize’ of becoming the ideal man his mother wanted.
This epiphany marked the beginning of my actual journey to manhood – one where I learned to value myself and recognize the need to nurture the neglected boy within him.
The Transformation: From Golden Child to Authentic Self
Before that conversation, if you had asked anyone if I was a highly empowered man, I guarantee the answer you would have gotten would have been a resounding “Yes!” That was because before examining the foundation of my Emotional Source Code, I was unaware and had built such a powerful bravado; I had fooled myself.
The aftermath of this transformative conversation was a profound shift in my self-perception. From being the “golden child” who always sought approval, I became a man who understood the importance of self-acceptance and actualization. This journey was not without its struggles. It involved confronting deep-seated insecurities and redefining his relationship with his past.
Strategies for Healing and Self-Realization
- Acknowledging Your Emotions: The first step towards healing is to become attuned to your emotions. Recognize and honor them as crucial indicators of your inner state. This awareness can lead to greater self-compassion and understanding.
- Seeking Intrinsic Joy over Extrenal Happiness: Emotional neglect disconnects us from life’s genuine joys. It is essential to deliberately seek out activities and relationships that bring joy, no matter how small or simple they may seem. This practice reinforces the belief that you are deserving of joy.
- Constructive Self-Talk: Engaging in positive self-talk, particularly through writing letters to the disenfranchised/rejected parts of yourself, can be a powerful tool for healing. This exercise is not about right or wrong but about giving voice to your inner self.
Embracing the Journey of Self
Discovery and Growth
Remember, the journey to self-acceptance and healing is unique for each individual. The key is to walk this path with others. Reaching out for support and guidance can be a critical step in owning the parts of yourself that have been neglected or disenfranchised. This is particularly true for those of us who, by whatever means, have been shamed around asking for help.
The Role of the Past in Shaping the Future
“The Past is Leaking All Over Our Present and Without Examination, Will Pollute Our Future!”
It’s vital to consider how your past experiences and relationships have shaped your present and will continue to influence your future. The courage to examine these aspects of your life leads to significant insights, personal growth, and self-actualization.
The Prize of True Transparency
The actual prize in this journey is not meeting someone else’s expectations but discovering and embracing your authentic self. The key is to take pride in who you are beyond your identity, separate from others’ accolades or approval. This realization is liberating and will lead to a more purposeful, joyful, and fulfilling life.
The Power of Boundary Setting
Learning to set and maintain healthy boundaries, especially with those closest to us, is a crucial aspect of this journey. It’s a testament to self-respect and the recognition of one’s own needs and desires. Boundaries are not barriers but bridges to healthier relationships and a better understanding of oneself and others.
The Endless Journey of Self-Improvement
We, as men, have been conditioned to be outcome/goal-driven. That certainly has its value. However, the journey to manhood, or adulthood, is not an outcome; it’s a continuous, evolutionary process. It’s a journey marked by moments of realization, struggles, and triumphs.
Reaching emotional maturity takes more than time. It requires courage. As Joseph Campbell famously said:
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Inviting Reflection and Action
This article isn’t an indictment or a call-out; it’s an invitation to explore and honor parts of yourself that may have been overlooked or suppressed. The parts of yourself that circumstances and conditioning have made wrong. The journey to self-discovery and actualization is an opportunity to grow, to accept oneself fully, and to live a richer, more meaningful life.
In closing, I ask you to reflect on your own journey. Do you see the past as a closed chapter, or do you have the courage to examine the parts of yourself that you may have abandoned?
How might these parts still influence areas of your life you’ve never considered?
The path to understanding and embracing your true self is open. It’s a journey worth embarking on that promises self-acceptance and a life filled with purpose, authenticity, and profound fulfillment.