I have been a man for almost 59 years, and I still confuse myself most days. Although, the good news is, I am starting to understand myself better each day. I do know that men have many unique strengths and powers, but also many fragilities and vulnerabilities, all of which will impact their lives and the lives of many people. So, based on my experience as the owner of a male mind and body, I would like to offer some operating guidelines to men and women.
My life until this very moment has been quite an adventure. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows, which I am sure every person on the planet can relate to. The greatest struggle for me has been trying to work me out. I would often say to myself, what is wrong with me and why do I keep doing and saying the things I do and say? Over the last few years, and as the result of my third marriage coming to an end, the world going into lock down, and being forced to be isolated with the person I least liked, I went on a journey of discovery of me. What I found were some insights I would love to share with men and women in the hope it can help you in your lives.
The great Dr Allan Meyer, a very close friend of mine and author of the transformational book and program, From Good Man to Valiant Man, says that when men don’t do the ongoing personal growth work on themselves, it is women and children who suffer the most. I don’t have children, but I do agree with his statement. It is my mission to be the best man I can be, and rather than beat myself up because of my past beliefs and behaviours, I have vowed to learn from them and use them to become a better man, in fact, a valiant man. It is a day-by-day adventure which I am relishing.
The three key insights I learned and the things that most affected my life as a man include; my conditioning and limiting beliefs, male stereotypes, and male wiring. Every man struggles with these three things to some degree or another, and once we can understand how they affect us, we can do something about them. For the ladies, I hope this helps you understand the men in your life better. I will touch on each of the three, and clearly can only just scratch the surface of awareness, However, stay tuned for a book coming soon.
I don’t think we really stop to understand where our crazy lies and limiting beliefs come from. When we do, we can see them for what they really are; lies and rubbish. The only thing stopping all of us, and moving men to make some very poor choices, is the self-talk that goes on in our head unconsciously. The biggest issue is believing that we are not enough, in any and every area of life, love, relationships and success. Much of my poor choices, and crazy obsessive behaviour came from a belief that I was not enough as I am. I only just recently discovered the source of that crazy belief and downright lie, because I now know I am amazing, just as I am. So are you, by the way.
As a child, in primary school, it was expressed to me by more than one teacher that they wished I would behave more like my older brother, who they had taught in their class the year before. If they wished I was more like my brother, then, in my mind, clearly, I was not good enough as I was. That one belief has affected my life, my choices, my relationships in a devastating way for much of my life. Men, you are enough, just as you are. Women, please tell the men in your life they are good enough as they are. This one shift will change everything.
There are some pretty foundational and very damaging male stereotypes that need to be smashed, as they are eroding lives. From a young age, as dinosaurs roamed the earth, and through decades of playing sport, it was reinforced in my mind that men don’t show pain or complain, and that showing any vulnerability was a sign of weakness. I also regrettably learned it was okay to objectify women. Men, please for your own sake, and the sake of the women and children you love, learn to open up, be honest and vulnerable, and ask for help if you need it. Men, please treat every female you meet with respect, knowing she is a precious child of God. Ladies, please help men with these things.
The greatest insight I got from reading Dr Allan Meyer’s book, was about the difference in male and female chemistry. Allan explained that men are wired to seek pleasure through the eyes and that sexualised images can start a chemical reaction that can have devastating effects on lives. I had always thought I was broken, but I have since learned I am not. I now know the temptations will always be there, but I get to choose to control where I look and what I look at, and how I live my life. It is such an empowering feeling to know I can operate myself in a more healthy and positive way. Men, learn this stuff, stop making excuses, and start behaving in a healthy way. Ladies, please be patient with men, and help them. Trust me, they need it.
In this week’s podcast with Kari Brownsberger, called Healthy version of you, we discuss the power of identity. When you identify yourself as a healthy person, as a respectful person, and as a positively influential person, you will start to behave that way. Men, we are strong and powerful, and our impact is bigger than we may believe. Let’s start today to understand ourselves and spend the rest of our lives being the best men we can be. Once we learn how to properly operate the male machine, great things will happen.