The Manliness Complex — Why We Suck at Expressing Ourselves, and Why We Need To Start
Once upon a time, the role of men was clear. The caveman days saw men out hunting for food. Later they were out labouring to put food on the table. Men were the bread winners, they had a very clear role in society which gave them purpose. It made them feel strong and important. Women wore the equally difficult task of being home-makers, raising the kids, nurturing the home and family.
Thankfully, in many parts of the world, those days are over. In this day and age, men and women are equals in the workforce. It’s a wonderful thing, but as with all change, it comes with consequences. If the role of men can now be filled by women, what does it mean to be a man?
We no longer have an identity, we feel vulnerable and the marketing gurus of the world know it. For just one day, take note of the advertisements which get served to you. Listening to a podcast about entrepreneurship? “Try these dietary supplements for muscle growth!” Watching a movie? Well, it probably has a token nerdy nice-guy who gets nervous around women, and a token muscly-manly-man that all the women swoon over. At the pub with your mates? “Have another beer! Don’t be weak! Be a man!”
Honestly? I’m not the manliest of men, in the traditional sense. My job is hacking computers. I’m a trumpet player and I like listening to jazz music. I’m physically fit but I’m not exactly Hercules. Throughout my life I’ve felt pressured by society to be more “manly”, I’ve felt self conscious and worst of all, I’ve spent the majority of my life feeling that I can’t express my emotions freely because it would make me look weak. These pressures were so deep in my psyche that I didn’t realise they existed; until recently. Now that I’m aware of it I notice the same inner-dissonance in almost every man I meet.
Phew! This would be a pretty depressing article if I ended it right here, wouldn’t it? Thankfully, it’s possible to pull out your metaphoric Thor hammer and smash this ridiculous society-driven manliness complex to pieces. I only feel comfortable writing this article because I feel that I have overcome these pressures, and y’know what? I feel more confident than ever, the relationship I have with my wife has blossomed, I no longer spend precious time lifting weights every morning, I’m physically fitter than ever, and the interactions I have with people are more meaningful.
Here’s how you can do the same.
Step 1: Be Aware of Your Manliness Complex
Think you don’t have one? So did I, for a long time. It’s especially difficult to admit you have a manliness complex if you have a manliness complex. Read that again.
Step 2: Learn to Express Yourself
Women tend to be far better at this than men, but it’s a very important skill to have for all of us. Being totally authentic in your dealings with others shows that you have confidence in who you are. If you don’t feel confident — fake it until it becomes ingrained in your psyche. Here’s a simple actionable tip:
Nex time someone asks “how are you?”, don’t just say “good”, answer honestly. The answer should take at least 10 seconds. It could be:
I’m not too bad thanks, I had a great weekend. I drove out to the yadda yadda national park and had a picnic. It was great weather but we didn’t stay long because my son kept getting bitten by ants! How are you?
Guess what? Instead of shutting the conversation down like a Cryptocurrency MLM scheme, you have opened it up. You have a personality and things to talk about. You’re a man!
Step 3: Have Hobbies
Your hobbies don’t have to be tinkering with cars and slamming beers with the boys. Find something you’re truly passionate about and do it without giving a flying flip what everyone else thinks! There’s nothing more manly than that.
Step 4: Exercise For the Right Reason
If you’re exercising because you want to look like The Rock, you have a manliness complex, and it’s okay. I’ve been there. Now give that weak excuse for “motivation” the flick and start exercising for your health.
If you don’t exercise, start. It does wonders for confidence and energy levels. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on special exercise clothes or a gym membership, go for a run, or even a walk every day!
Step 5: Sort Out Your Finances
I would love to say that money doesn’t matter, but let’s be real; having some savings in the bank makes us feel secure and confident. You don’t need to earn six figures, you just need to manage your money effectively.
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