What does it mean to be a man today? How can men consciously express their masculinity without becoming cold or closed-hearted on the one hand… or wimpy and emasculated on the other? What’s the most loving way for a conscious man to express himself?
Following my one and only divorce nearly fifteen years ago, it was time for self-analysis. No divorce is so completely one-sided that both parties don’t have something to do with the demise. I considered myself a good husband and father, and my ex-wife was no monster, so there obviously had to be areas for me to grow. Here was a rare opportunity to examine myself while always asking what did I need to do improve?
In the ensuing years, my quest for the answers to these questions has been anything but a straight line. Rather it is a continuing and never-ending journey. And I have learned that it is never too late to re-invent ourselves and finish strong.
Make no mistake about it, I certainly don’t claim to be the “model man,” but I’m working on it, and my intent is not to preach here, but rather to share ideas. Here are ten areas you might consider to live more consciously as a man:
A man understands and respects the power of choice. He lives a life of his own creation. He knows that life stagnates when he fails to decide and flourishes when he chooses a clear path. He realizes that the world does not acknowledge knowledge, but rewards action. He realizes that what he focuses upon, he will eventually create.
When a man makes a decision, he opens the door he wants and closes the doors he doesn’t want. He locks onto his target like a guided missile with passion and focus. There’s no guarantee he’ll reach his target, and he knows this, but he doesn’t need such guarantees. He simply enjoys the sense of inevitability that comes from pushing the launch button.
His decisions have migrated from “competition” to more of collaboration, cooperation, and communication as a preferred vehicle or methodology. He has come to this conclusion as he realizes that the win-lose model is outdated and that he is not separate with others, but part of a greater whole – co-creation.
A man doesn’t require the approval of others. He’s willing to follow his heart wherever it leads him and the more secure he is, he will be more guided by principle and less by impressing others. When a man is following his heart-centered path, it’s of little consequence if the entire world is against him. And he also realizes that when he follows his ego, he is likely to deviate from his authentic self.
2. Put your relationships second.
Yes, put relationships second, but hear me out. Valuing one’s own integrity and being strong and whole for one self’s is the foundation for any healthy person. I wrote a short book on the overlooked virtues of “Selfishness” in which I explained that you must be strong and heart-centered in order to be able to adequately give to others, and most especially your “relationships.” And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that a man should be greedy or narcissistic, just the opposite. However a man must himself be strong in order to be loving and giving to others.
A man knows he must commit to something greater than satisfying the needs of a few people. He’s not willing to be domesticated, but he is willing to accept the responsibility that comes with greater challenges. He knows that when he shirks that duty, he becomes something less than a man. When others observe that the man is unyieldingly committed to his values and ideals, he gains their trust and respect, even when he cannot gain their direct support. The surest way for a man to lose the respect of others (as well as his self-respect) is to violate his own values.
Life will test the man to see if he’s willing to put loyalty to others ahead of loyalty to his principles. The man will be offered many temptations to expose his true loyalties. A man’s greatest reward is to live with integrity, and his greatest punishment is what he inflicts upon himself for placing anything above his integrity. Whenever the man sacrifices his integrity, he loses his freedom… and himself as well.
A man chooses his friends, lovers, and associates consciously. He actively seeks out the company of people who inspire and challenge him, and he willingly sheds those who hold him back. He realizes there are no self-made men, but rather those working together to achieve more.
A man doesn’t blame others for his relationship problems. When a relationship is no longer compatible with his heart-centered path, he initiates the break-up and departs without blame or guilt.
A man holds himself accountable for the relationships he allows into his life. He holds others accountable for their behavior, but he holds himself accountable for his decision to tolerate such behavior.
A man teaches others how to treat him by the relationships he’s willing to allow into his life. A man refuses to fill his life with negative or destructive relationships; he knows that’s a form of self-abuse.
4. Be willing to fail.
A man is willing to make mistakes. He’s willing to be wrong. He’d rather try and fail than do nothing.
A man’s self-trust is one of his greatest assets. When he second-guesses himself by worrying about failure, he diminishes himself. An intelligent man considers the prospect of failure, but he doesn’t preoccupy himself with pointless worry. He accepts that if a failure outcome occurs, he can deal with it.
A man grows more from failure than he does from success. Success cannot test his resolve in the way that failure can. Success has its challenges, but a man learns more about himself when he takes on challenges that involve risk. When a man plays it safe, his vitality is lost, and he loses his edge. Ever the learner, though others may consider him a “Master,” he never feels or considers himself anything but the “Apprentice,” always learning and growing.
5. Be confident.
A man speaks and acts with confidence, but is at the same time humble. He owns his attitude. This strength comes from an unyielding trust in God, Love, or Source Energy if you will.
He is secure in himself and realizes that false bravado, bragging, and the ostentatious display of wealth, power, and toys don’t define him, though he realizes it is not wrong to aspire to the best that life has to offer.
A man doesn’t adopt a confident posture because he knows he’ll succeed. He often knows that failure is a likely outcome, but when the odds of success are clearly against him, he still exudes confidence. It isn’t because he’s ignorant or suffering from denial. It’s because he’s proving to himself that he has the strength to transcend his self-doubt. This builds his courage and persistence, two of his most valuable allies.
A man is willing to be defeated by the world. He’s willing to be taken down by circumstances beyond his control. But he refuses to be overwhelmed by his own self-doubt. He knows that when he stops trusting himself, he is surely lost. He’ll surrender to fate when necessary, but he won’t surrender to fear or quit.
6. Express love actively and be kind.
A man is an active giver of love, not a passive receiver – a giver and not a taker though he can accept a gift or compliment without obligation. A man is the first to initiate a conversation, the first to ask for what’s needed, and the first to say, “I love you.” Waiting for someone else to make the first move is unbecoming of him. The universe does not respond positively to his hesitation. Only when he’s in motion do the floodgates of abundance open.
Man is the out-breath of source energy. It is his job — his duty — to share his love with the world. He must wean himself from suckling the energy from others and become a vibrant transmitter of energy himself. He has moved on from the ancient survival model and realizes that murder and destruction no longer work for anyone. He must allow his energy to flow from source, through him, and into the world. When he assumes this role, he has no doubt he is living as his true self. Just because of opening his heart and having been hurt, he knows that is not enough reason to not continue to open his heart, express gratitude/appreciation, and be patient that the Universe will not sooner or later provide love back to him.
In every sense, a man lives focused in a life of abundance and not based in either fear or scarcity. As such, he is true unto himself, his authentic self and quick to share and serve others.
7. Re-channel sex energy.
A man doesn’t hide his sexuality. If others shrink from him because he’s too masculine, he allows them to have their reaction. There’s no need for him to lower his energy just to avoid frightening the timid. A man accepts the consequences of being male; he makes no apologies for his nature.
A man is careful not to allow his energy to get stuck at the level of lust. He re-channels much of his sexual energy into his heart, where it can serve his higher values instead of just his animal instincts.
A man channels his sexual energy into his heart-centered pursuits. He feels such energy pulsing within him, driving him to action. He feels uncomfortable standing still. He allows his sexual energy to explode through his heart, not just his genitals.
8. Face your fears.
For a man, being afraid of something is reason enough to do it. A man’s fear is a call to be tested. When a man hides from his fears, he knows he’s fallen out of alignment with his true self. He feels weak, depressed, and helpless. No matter how hard he tries to comfort himself and achieve a state of peace, he cannot overcome his inner feeling of dread. Only when facing his fears does a man experience peace.
A man makes a friend of risk. He doesn’t run and hide from the tests of fear. He turns toward them and engages them boldly.
A man succeeds or fails. A coward never makes the attempt. Specific outcomes are of less concern to a man than his direction. The male path is filled with obstacles. It typically includes more failures than successes. These obstacles help a man discover what’s truly important to him. Through repeated failures a man learns to persist in the pursuit of worthy goals and to abandon goals that are unworthy of him.
A man can handle being knocked down many times and embarrassment does not faze him. For every physical setback he experiences, he enjoys a spiritual advancement, and that is enough for him.
A man feels like a man whenever he faces the right way, staring straight into his fears. He feels even more like a man when he advances in the direction of his fears, as if sailing on the winds and currents of an inner stream.
9. Be forgiving.
A man is forgiving of himself and others. He is above racial and religious prejudice. While he may hate other’s actions, he has grown to love all other people. If he is not to that stage, he is at least tolerant of his own detours as well as other’s. He realizes there is the god-force in everyone and everything, and approaches all as if he recognizes that fact. He knows that every life force is on its own journey and that is good.
10. Keep growing and moving.
A man knows that a body moving stays in motion and one growing stays vital. He realizes that his course is to embrace life and share his love with the world without holding back. When a man is satisfied with what he’s done, he can make peace with death. But if he fails to do so, death becomes a threat and an enemy haunting him all his days. A man cannot die well unless he lives well, drawing strength from knowing that his physical existence is temporary. When a man faces and accepts the inevitability of death… when he learns to see death as his ally instead of his enemy… he’s finally able to express his true self.
A man knows that by opening up and wondering how great life can be, regardless of his immediate circumstances, he can accept the magic the Universe offers. He knows that he must sow and prepare the soil for harvest. Then his task is to appreciate the earth, but it is not his job to make the seeds grow. Thus, he is accepting, nurturing, and tolerant, as well as loving, giving, and serving.
Remember that you are an incredible man. No matter where you are located on your own particular journey, go forth; believe in yourself and the higher power that is right at your back. The “now” is all you or I ever have, so make each moment count …now!
Join me by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.