Part of being human, be it a male or female human, is that we’re all pretty hard wired to evolve and advance as individuals and as a species. Yet, some people passionately embrace that reality, and a great number of others – knowingly or not – run like hell from the prospect. One of the reasons why is because humans have become extremely comfortable with staying comfortable. I would even assert that many have become addicted to comfort, which is causing a great deal of difficulty and suffering for so many. If you’re a man, this shows up in distinctive ways…most especially in the multitude of ways we can check out at a moment’s notice, whether alone or with others.
This attraction/avoidance dichotomy sets up a very intense cognitive dissonance in people. As a man, one of the ways I spent decades trying to deal with that contradiction of being acutely aware of a desire to, and simultaneously in terror of, changing was indeed to check out. I started it at about 22, and found myself heavily in that mode up into my late 50’s. In looking back at those ways I did that from the perspective of a 63-year-old man, I can see that all that checking out was actually a way of distracting myself from the gross inconvenience of being a man in chronology and responsibility, but not feeling at ALL like a man inside. I thought, for years, that I was keeping that one pretty well camouflaged.
You see, my first way of checking out was to become a 22-year-old workaholic in the corporate world (sound familiar to anyone?). That way, I looked like I was manning up (in a context I had previously held for years that manning up was inherently pejorative), but I wasn’t aware that I was full of shit. It further obscured me dealing with my fear and discomfort with my fellow men and my own masculinity, not to mention the degree to which fear (in general) of discomfort was running and contaminating how I was experiencing life. I was showing up for my responsibilities to provide for my family without showing up as fully as I wanted to for my family, particularly my children. In hindsight, I also was decidedly checked out from my own body. When that happens, it becomes impossible to show up in a healthy, powerful masculine way. Why? Because you cannot be fully present without being connected to your body, which means you aren’t truly manning up. I use that term here in the best sense that indicates being connected to your healthiest masculine energies/characteristics and applying them towards serving others and yourself in the most effective way possible. I was blissfully ignoring that I was hiding from all that under the extremely unhealthy extra 120 lbs I had on me.
When our son got to be a teenager, he was really looking for a lot of wisdom from me about growing into a man that he could use as a starting point. In terms of being able to model how a “good man” operates, I could demonstrate a very hard work ethic. However, because I was ignoring my inner world where it felt too uncomfortable, I couldn’t show him how to man up in the sense of taking full responsibility for how I was experiencing my life; how I was responding to life’s circumstances instead of reacting to them all; how I could use discipline and masculine energy to totally restore myself (as I’ve done over the last few years) to being MORE my true self; how to help my wife feel safer; how to listen in a deeply present way; how to actually seek and embrace opportunities to get uncomfortable; and how to better differentiate between who I thought I should be (which my ego identity was determining) and who I’ve actually always been, determined by the distinctive qualities of my spirit and its wisdom.
Those are all aspects of being fully present – and how to put such presence to being of good service to the world and to my loved ones – in a good and powerful way, in my experience. This is SO crucial for people (but I’m focusing on men here given The Evolving Man (TEM) is a men’s growth and evolutionary organization) who want to show up for themselves, their lives, and their most beloved people in life.
If you’d like to learn more about how you, if you’re a man, can move yourself more onto the path of manning up in the showing up sense of that term, look around our website at www.theevolvingman.com, and feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to hear about our groups and coaching services.