(from No More Mr. Nice Guy: The Hero’s Journey, by Pariser, Dr. Michael)
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way From “My Way”
Written by Paul Anka, sung by Frank Sinatra
What does it mean to be a man, or to feel a strong sense of masculinity? In olden days, it might mean killing wild beasts or other men, dictating orders to women and children, and maybe consuming an entire side of mutton. For better or worse, these are no longer the yardsticks by which we take the measure of a man. We’ve killed most of the wild beasts, we don’t order women around, and as for that side of mutton? Many of us are watching our waistlines. In fact, it could be said that killing, gorging and bossing are distinctly unmanly, at least for an Integrated Male. So, where does that leave us? What’s left that can make us feel manly? As it turns out, many experiences can contribute to a man’s feeling of masculinity.
Authenticity and Integrity: saying and doing what you really feel.
Autonomy: to be your own man, taking orders from no one, except in situations (like work or the military) you voluntarily enter.
Leadership: taking charge and having others in your command.
Competence and Capability: having the power to get things done.
Success and Achievement: your pride in accomplishment.
Passion and Creativity: doing things you believe in and that make you feel a sustained sense of excitement.
Male camaraderie: comfort, aliveness, and enjoyment in the company of other men.
You may feel as if you are strong in one or two of these areas, but if you’re like most Nice Guys, you don’t feel generally strong in a lot of them. Indeed, you may envy other men, those who seem to have all the qualities you desire. You may have asked yourself more than once, “Why don’t I have what they have?” And you probably haven’t gotten an answer.
In addressing this issue, Dr. Glover pinpoints several emotional dynamics that undermine your ability to develop, experience, and own all the positive qualities on that list. Like pits of quicksand, these dynamics can pull a Nice Guy down into a sense of himself as not much of a man. Some of us live our lives in that quicksand, not even trying to escape, our masculinity only a shadow of what it ought to be. For each of those problem areas, Dr. Glover outlines proactive solutions he calls “getting your testicles back.” By rising up to those challenges, you will begin to gain what you have always wanted: your full manhood.
Here is what we’re going to have to work on:
Disconnection from your own masculinity: the sense that you aren’t much of a man, especially compared to other men.
Remaining monogamous to your mother, a deep commitment not only to your mother herself, but to everything she taught you about the world that leaves you seeking the approval of women.
Disconnection from other men: feeling more comfortable around women and staying away from men and male activities.
Rejection of your father: your wish to be the opposite of him in important ways.
Disconnection from your own masculinity can take many forms. For instance:
You may not feel powerful or strong, and you might lack a sense of being a man among men. You reject aggressiveness, anger, competitiveness, rough humor, provocation, confrontation, boisterousness, loudness, bodily noises and smells, decisiveness, and sexual assertion.
You pride yourself in being different from other men, and although you hope to feel superior by doing so, you generally feel inferior.
You avoid situations in which you might be required to show strength, assertiveness, or other masculine attributes.
You want, in important ways, to be the opposite of your father.
You don’t lead, you follow.
At a deeper level, you’re probably afraid that if you acted in a masculine way, you would feel like an imposter or be revealed as a monster, which would lead to rejection by the people you love. Highly unlikely. People may be surprised a bit by your new behavior, but it’s far likelier that they will be more attracted than repulsed. However, there’s only one way to find that out. You must face your fears and consciously embrace healthy masculine traits.