“Masculinity is not about being the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the one who sleeps with the most girls, and the one who has the most money. The one who has the most accomplishments is not the most masculine. In fact, it is often the men who covet these things most who are covering and compensating for the greatest insecurities. Let us revere the one who loves others deeply, loves himself deeply, and has a dream that he is inspired to live with and by and through. He is a man.”
― Lewis Howes
Growing up in a conservative Chinese family, I was taught to be nice. By not rocking the boat, I did everything I could to please others so they would like me. I grew up assuming if I did everything everyone told me, I would be liked and live a happy and problem-free life.
For example, I always said “yes” to working late for my job because I didn’t want to anger my colleagues and boss. I was afraid they wouldn’t like me anymore. Felt obligated to help others, I rarely used the forbidden word “no.”
By not stepping outside of the social norm – bending or breaking any rules, I conformed to society’s expectations. I learned to wear the mask of the “Nice Guy.”
Often time, I had to save “face” – a common high value in Asian culture. This means no matter how dysfunctional my world may be, I had to put on a facade pretending everything was swell. This is equivalent to not showing any negative emotions even when my body is filled with pain and agony.
I was taught expressing my feelings was a sign of weakness. This is backed up by a popularized Chinese quote – “男人大丈夫, 流血不流泪.” The literal translation is this: “As a grown man, I won’t cry even if I’m bleeding.”
Through years of social programming, I embodied the disguise of being a “tough guy.”
In addition, I followed society’s script for success and happiness by attaining rich fortunes. Hence, I spent most of my life chasing it.
After completing college, I focused on my career on earning money. In return, I purchased luxurious things such as a fancy car. By doing so, I received my social status, title, and prestige through the accumulation of materialistic wealth.
With society’s added pressure, I always felt the need to want more and keep up with the latest and greatest trends. This endless competition drove me to work even harder to climb the corporate ladder. And I paid with the following hefty price:
Deteriorating health by gaining twenty pounds of fat
Dull social life and non-existent dating life
Stagnation and complacency in my personal life
But realizing my health is irreplaceable and priceless, I decided to never again compromise my body for the sake of accumulating wealth.
To me, the greatest riches in the world is having excellent health, encouraging family and friends, and the freedom to do what I love.
After understanding myself more through my continuous journey of self-discovery, I learned to eradicate the variety of masks I’ve been trained to wear. Only by living authentically can I share my true self with the world.
Eradicate the Masks of Fake Manhood
Society does a great job at herding people to follow certain ideas and beliefs. In formal education, students are taught to be obedient and follow the rules. And upon graduation, they’ll become another widget contributing to the economy.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a job since we all need money to survive and thrive. However, problems may arise when we trade our sanity for the sake of creating wealth.
Abiding by societal regulations, you may have adopted one or more of the following disguises.
1. Nice Guy
This type of people pleaser facade is the most common among men. On the surface, he is friendly to everyone. But underneath, he has an agenda for his pleasant acts. The following reasons may include seeking the following:
Approval and/or validation
Status or title
Perks and advantages
In platonic relationships, he always says “yes” because he’s afraid of making others angry. He feels the need to have everyone like him. His paradigm is this:
“If I do everything everyone wants, I’ll be liked. That way, I’ll live a problem-free and happy life.”
And as for intimate connections, the “nice guy” puts women on a pedestal. He sees her as a Goddess that’s untouchable. Viewing himself as lower value, he treats himself as less than and undeserving of her.
As a powerful, mature, and masculine man, you definitely want to be kind to others. But you don’t do it for personal gains, but out of sincere generosity. You do it because you choose to, independent of any personal potential positive outcomes.
Because there’s a fine line being benevolent and taken advantage of, you set healthy boundaries because you respect and love yourself.
2. Tough Guy
Compared to the “nice guy,” this type of man is quite the opposite. He is unkind, socially disconnected, and seldom shows any emotions. And crying must be avoided at all costs. He thinks showing feelings is a sign of weakness. But this is not true at all!
It takes an emotionally mature man to portray his deepest thoughts and sentiments. It is an act of courage. By opening yourself up, you display strength by being vulnerable to possible attacks and criticism.
Fully accepting yourself, you are extremely comfortable with who you are by not conforming to others’ expectations.
3. Mr. Superficial
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having money and material wealth. We all need a certain amount of it to live and thrive. However, making them your main focus is not a sign of a developed man. Rather, it’s a sign of immaturity.
It’s admirable to have ambitious goals and the desire to have and achieve more. But considering the following questions:
“Am I doing it for wholesome reasons?”
“Am I numbing myself with materialistic wealth?”
“Am I running away from the root causing problems?”
The need to make a lot of money has nothing to do with being a masculine man. As long as you can provide for yourself and those who are important to you, that’s all it matters.
No title, fame, or any amount of money will make you feel like a man if you don’t believe that you are.
It doesn’t matter who knows about you. What’s important is your authentic character and what you can supply for yourself and those in need.
Don’t chase money, pursue meaning. Start by falling in love with who you are now and the direction you’re going.
4. Lady’s Man
To be masculine, many men believe he must sleep with numerous women. His manhood is purely defined by the amount of sex he has had or is having.
Intimate encounters without a substantial emotional connection are frivolous and meaningless. You may feel good at the moment with the temporary dopamine rush. But afterward, you’ll be innervated and empty due to the lack of a significant bond with the woman.
Sex is amazing. A masculine man views it as a beautiful act to strengthen the relationship with his partner. It’s a wonderful experience to take the intimacy to the highest level and/or to procreate.
A mature man doesn’t let his sex life validate or diminish his worth in the world. Rather, he defines it by his personality, values, and the level of positive contribution he can add to the world and those around him.
5. One-Up Man
Many men believe to be a real man, they must be better than others, especially other men. They want to be seen as the strongest, smartest, or wealthiest.
This low-value behavior is immature.
A true man doesn’t need to compete with others because he’s fully content and comfortable with himself. Not letting his ego control him, he doesn’t have to be better than others.
If there is competition, it would only be with his former self – striving to be superior than he was yesterday.
Viewing others’ success as his own, a strong, mature, and masculine man aims for win-win situations. He only engages in honorable fights which serves a higher purpose and a selfless cause.
Embrace Loving Masculinity
An honorable man embraces all of who he is. He gets in touch with his inner masculinity as well as femininity. Standing strong in the face of fear and doubt, he becomes an unshakable “rock” – impervious to outside forces.
More importantly, he willingly opens up to express his feelings. Taking off his armor and putting down the sword, he becomes emotionally naked. This requires the highest level of courage – to be vulnerable and susceptible to external attacks and criticism.
With complete self-acceptance and full comfortability with himself, he demonstrates his deepest and rawest thoughts, challenges, and doubts. Although valuing and respecting others’ opinions, he only chooses those which best serve him.
Not seeking others’ validations and approval, he stays true to himself. And after realizing he is and always will be enough, he generates peace with what he currently has.
Understanding true happiness must come from within, he detaches it from external sources such as people and circumstances, even though they can add to it. Hence, he builds loving relationships, pursues meaningful work, and creates positive impacts in the world.
Regardless of what mask(s) you’re currently hiding behind, you can take it off and reveal your authentic, genuine, and best self.
After doing so, you’ll become more connected with yourself – not having to put on a persona and be someone else.
Embrace all of who you are now and be free.
Being anyone else but yourself is fake and difficult. Life becomes easier and congruent when you follow your heart and do what matters most to you.
Embody your true masculinity and unleash your full potential to create a powerful and positive impact in the world.
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