What Does It Mean To Be A Man In 2022?

Conversations about manhood and masculinity pop up frequently these days and are seemingly everywhere. But, the ones I encounter mostly center around all the things men are doing wrong.

Men aren’t in touch with their feelings.

Men these days are weak.

Men are one dimensional horn dogs.

Men are optional sperm donors.

Men should be both more forceful and more gentle.

A real man….(insert Hollywood archetype here)

I’ve been doing men’s work for 8 years now, and around Father’s Day, I found myself pondering what manhood looks like.

It’s easy to start off a conversation about what it means to be a man with all the things men are doing wrong. That list appears to be infinite according to mainstream narrative. And of course, it makes me wonder, might this be on purpose? And the answer is yes. The Rockefellers funded much of the women’s liberation movement to increase the tax base and get kids in school earlier to create the idea of the state as a parent. Part of that effort has involved pointing out all the things men are doing wrong.

If it hasn’t sunken in yet, part of the reason why men look so shitty these days is because that is by design! Division makes more money than unity.

Note for those who have a knee jerk reaction and immediately get bitter after hearing that– Don’t fall for simple minded traps like “feminism is good” or “feminism is bad” – that is a logical fallacy of the false dichotomy. I’m not saying feminism is good or bad. The point here is that tons of money has been and is currently being spent to divide us and make us angry with one another, and that has been going on for a while.

It’s really hard to figure out how to be a man when family units have broken up, single parenthood is increasingly common, and kids look to screens for examples of healthy masculinity. If you know of a single television program that consistently displays healthy masculine behavior, reply here, and I will happily give you twenty dollars. I have yet to find any.

Teachers are increasingly under fire both from parents and administrators, constantly pressured to take on roles historically relegated to parents, who, by the way, used to be in charge of educating their children.

At the same time, parents increasingly feel pressure because they struggle to stay afloat, which I’ve mentioned numerous times in these writings — single-earner households are dead, and the dual-earner household is normal, which takes away crucial parent-child bonding time. And for the record, I’m not saying single-earner households are good, but they are better than empty nest households where kids spend most of their time with strangers and parents are burned out from working.

Healthy masculine behavior is less about a specific activity and more about a qualitative way of being. Healthy behavior intuitively feels good in the body and will come with a sense of peace or rightness.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a good example of how to be, and works for men and women alike-

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t make assumptions.
  3. Don’t take things personally.
  4. Always do your best.

Since “don’t” directives can be confusing and often leave me wondering, “But what is it that I should do?” I’ve turned around agreements two and three.

For agreement two, I’d say – get curious and ask questions. Inquiry is the way around assumptions. Rather than assuming we know something, we can admit that we don’t know and investigate instead of making up a story.

For agreement three, I’d say – part of the secret is that if you are impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best, the number of things that go sideways in life decrease significantly. But, challenges still may arise, in which case a better way to take things is by saying hmm, isn’t that interesting. Just notice, and surrender to the idea that we often don’t have a clue why things happen. Trying to understand why everything happens can be exhausting and often serves as an attempt to control anyways.

But, it still leaves questions of what to do. No matter how many things show up on the DO NOT DO list, they still don’t give ideas on what we should do.

Here are some ideas. For the record, many of these work great when flipped for women too. Activities that generally boost health are good for everyone. Healthy people have many different goals and aspirations. Sick people have one — be healthy.

Spend time with your male friends, both in pairs and as a group. This works especially well with men you look up to. We learn by osmosis, and as Jim Rohn said, we are the sum of the 5 people we spend most of our time with. Being deliberate about spending time with other men who lift you up spikes the likelihood that you will have a better life. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Spend time alone. I don’t mean in isolation or being a curmudgeon or a downer. I mean getting to know yourself. What do you like? What don’t you like? Learning these things about yourself comes from experience. Give yourself permission to try things out by yourself.

Do something hard, often. This can be for its own sake or as part of another goal or aspiration. Chris Guillebeau coined the phrase “the happiness of pursuit” which reflects this well. Pursuing something difficult can be rewarding just by itself. One pet theory I have is that our brains have a set point in terms of difficulty and challenges in life. If we don’t seek out these challenges, they will find their way into our lives anyway, generally manifesting as problems of the mind — over worrying, giving too much weight to what other people think about you, and disregarding what you genuinely think is best.

Spend time with men of different ages. The natural human environment is multigenerational. Just like we learn from the wisdom of elders, we can also learn from the wisdom of children. Men older than us can share their experience, whereas young men and boys can remind us to keep things light and get in touch with our vitality.

Notice when you feel pressure to “be a man.” These are the moments where our old programs run wild. Depending on what those programs are, we may be acting in a toxic way. The most common example I see of this is being unnecessarily violent when what’s really happening is fear. Acting big and tough is often a front for being scared. Just like there is power in raising your voice, there’s also power in speaking calmly with presence.

Be of service. This may be as simple as helping someone carry something heavy if they are struggling. If you’re unsure, offer help, and respect someone’s ability to accept or decline. Small, genuine acts of service can be quite meaningful to both the giver and the receiver. The other night, I helped a couple load a large commercial printer into the back of a moving van after seeing them wrestle with it. The two of them couldn’t do it, but together, the three of us got it into the truck in a few short minutes.

Get off your phone and get outside. Quit reading this article and go for a walk. The screen world is full of extremes — he said, she said, arguments, conflict, and never ending streams of content designed to get you horny or afraid and empty your wallet. I haven’t met anyone who regretted doing a weekly digital sabbath.

Men come in many flavors, shapes, and sizes. There’s no one great ideal of healthy masculinity. And for those shouting, “But what about The Rock, Dwayne Johnson?” — he’s rich, handsome, funny, and a hard worker, a great example for all of us. Sorry, he doesn’t count. That man is a supreme genetic anomaly, son of a pro wrestler, division one athlete on arguably the greatest football team ever, and he does steroids in addition to his insane genetics. So no, I can’t be The Rock. Part of the reason he is successful is because of his freakish genes. I’m not saying he isn’t a hard worker — just that many people can work every bit as hard and will not get the same results. Picking unreasonable idols and telling boys and young men to “be like him” can backfire.

But it’s okay because I don’t have to be The Rock, and neither do you. You have gifts and abilities that he doesn’t have, and pretending to be someone you are not is a surefire way to be blinded to your own gifts. I just need to be the best version of myself I can be. And it’s perfectly okay to not know exactly what that means, or how to articulate it.


Πηγή: stegdrew.com



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