Three Ways Men Can Profoundly Improve Their Lives Immediately
I keep hearing men are irrelevant these days. The best part of us has been replaced by vibrating plastic. The idea that we are necessary for protection, bread winning, and chivalry got burned with the bras of the seventies. In turn, we’ve turned into a species of lost souls. We bury ourselves in alcohol, pornography, and misguided anger toward our feminine counterparts. We shun intimate companionship in exchange for binge drinking, meaningless sex, video games, and Peter Pan’ish existences.
While the tangible necessities like money and muscle that our fathers and grandfathers provided may no longer be outwardly “needed” – especially in the West – what our society still requires is true masculine strength. More so now than at any other time. Men, men of quality, integrity, and heart-centered power are more in demand than ever before.
“Speak softly but carry a big stick” has a hell of a different connotation than “Speak softly and pray to god you don’t have to pick up the stick because you have no idea how to use it, are shit scared of it, and have no idea who you are nor what you stand for.” Ya feel me here?
Development of true masculine qualities is what separates so many men from the current path of misery, lack of inspiration, and spiritual extinction that we have found ourselves walking down.
Here are three areas that every man can engage in to change his reality. Areas that when played in will spill over into his work, relationship, and community life.
1. Find Your Mission
Every man needs a mission, something to fight for, to fight against, and to drive him to be his best every day. Often, Gents, this is not your job. When my old boss Gavin de Becker ran me through his “What Would You Do With Unlimited Resources?” exercise he wasn’t helping me find my dream job. In fact, he knew putting me through those paces had a strong chance of having me walk away from the job he was giving me. He was helping me find the seeds of my purpose.
Let’s make the absolutely vital note that this may have nothing to do with your occupation or formal education. There are brilliant healers working as bakers, teachers who are CEOs of corporations, and poets sweeping the street as you read this.
Instead, think about what makes you come alive. When are you at your best? When are you exploding with energy and passion? Is it when you coach your son’s soccer team? When you give a presentation at work? Or when you’re making music, painting, or writing poetry?
”What makes me come alive?” is one of the most beneficial questions you can ask yourself as a man. Your purpose is your primary mission in life. To excel at your purpose is more important than any other area of your being.
A man without a purpose is lost. He will bounce from entertainment to numbing agent, half-assed venture to depression. Dedicate yourself to finding your purpose, and expressing it when you do.
2. Learn to Hold Space
In today’s world, the ability to hunt, fight, and light a fire all come second to the ability to hold space. Ok, what the hell does “holding space” mean, you ask?
Holding space is the ability to sit in front of another human being or unfolding situation and emotionally hold your shit together. To not flinch, react, or get triggered when your partner is screaming, crying, laughing, or all of the above at the same time. It’s the ability to breathe into the moment and let be what will be without the need to dive in and negate, fix, or qualify the experience for the other person.
Think about the last time your significant other came home and was upset with you. How did the conversation go? Did you interrupt so you could prove what she was feeling was false? Did you back up your argument with facts, counterpoints, and a well-designed argument that all ran contrary to her experience?
Or did you provide a white-walled backdrop, one lined with Teflon spray where anything that was thrown against it was accepted but then slid right off?
At first, holding space is a skill. Then, it becomes an art. But most importantly, it is a practice. A daily one. It starts with learning how to breathe. Then learning how to exhale when you want to hold your breath. Then learning how to only inhale and exhale when all you want to do is verbally fire back. It starts with being mindful of your own interior dialogue and having the capacity to allow things that make you uncomfortable to unfold in front of you without the need to react to them.
Ask yourself throughout your day – at the post office, in traffic, when speaking with your boss, and at any time your blood pressure begins to rise – “Is this about me?” If the answer is no, then there’s no need to do anything more than breath and hold space.
Make no mistake about it, this is the internal training of the warrior spirit. It will test you further than any physical practice with a sword or gun ever could. Enter into it boldly and courageously.
3. Cultivate the Willingness to Be Vulnerable
I know. I used the V word. It’s an awful one. It implies that we have feelings, that we show our humanity, and give people the opportunity to hurt us – and that’s a hard pill to swallow. But we don’t have to jump right into full-blown vulnerability today, how about starting with being willing. Let’s agree to begin there.
Vulnerability is the key to real happiness. Vulnerability requires immense authenticity and strength. You think being vulnerable implies weakness? No, no, no. Being completely, unabashedly honest with someone who has the potential to turn around and hurt you and see how easy it is. There’s a good reason for the stuttering and shaking hands during these conversations. Most of us would rather punch holes in the wall than show our vulnerability.
I know men who have lost their jobs and haven’t told their wives for months, men who have started programs of synthetic testosterone and not let their partners know. Why? What was the outcome they feared? Why was that outcome scarier than the potential outcome of sharing the truth?
Vulnerability says, “Ok, this is scary for me and I can live in fear. I can hide behind this facade and hope and pray the truth never comes out or I can come right out and be honest – and let the consequences be what they may.”
This is especially important in your relationships with other men, as often we’re all in an imaginary “who has the biggest dick in the room” contest. This contest does not actually exist – you can finally take a deep breath and throw that measuring tape away once and for all. In fact, we are each other’s greatest allies. We are brothers in the same fight. Brothers on the same team.
When we share our struggles with each other, we solidify that team and allow our brothers to come to our aid. We invite them to do the same with us. Who among us would let a man we care about struggle without lending a hand? Why, then, do we not invite them to do the same with us?
We Are Not Irrelevant
Men are far from irrelevant. As a matter of fact, the positive expression of masculine strength is more needed now than it’s ever been. The world is an expression of misguided masculinity, aggression, and confusion, from mass shootings, to rapes, to a generation of young men that feel their best course at life is checking out from the social strata and getting lost in video games and fantasy.
Claiming your masculine power at its essence, not in some alpha male, ego-dominant form is the highest calling for a man. It centers him around his highest purpose, focuses him in his daily practices and energy output, creates compassion, builds strength, and brings a peace to his life that cannot be achieved any other way.