Our culture can be very deceptive. How many times do we conform to what we think others expect without truly realizing what is right? One of culture’s many lies tells us that men can’t show weakness. Culture’s definition of a “Real Man” paints a picture of a camouflage-wearing, tobacco-spitting tough guy who does what he wants when he wants to do it. We are taught to believe that women are attracted to this type of man and this is the best way to be respected by our peers, therefore we stay away from anything that puts us in a position where weakness could be exposed.
So why does it matter if men show weakness or not? Who cares if they want to be a tough guy? Ironically, the motivating factor behind not showing weakness is in fact a major weakness that we all deal with . . fear. If you show me a man who refuses to show weakness, I’ll show you a man who is afraid to show weakness. If we’re not careful, fear can control our every move paralyzing our decision making and causing us to stay exactly where we are.
As men we have a responsibility to lead our families. Whether we like it or not, our actions have an immeasurable impact on the people around us. Our children will find a lot of their self-worth based on the way we interact with them. Our wives will find their stability and security in the way we love and care for them so it’s our responsibility to be the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be.
What does that look like to be the best version of ourselves? It starts with facing fear head on and taking steps that may not be the most comfortable but ultimately solidify you as the leader. I’ve listed some common fears that we face as men and common ways to address them. Since every person is different I understand that not all of these will apply, but if you read through these and think that they may apply to someone you know, I encourage you to share this post. You never know what difference it may make.
Embarassment or loss of respect
One of the most intense fears that men face is the fear of embarrassing themselves. Anything that undermines our reputation and causes others to lose respect will drive us absolutely crazy. This fear prevents us from going forward with a lot of things that build us up as men and make us better. In my last blog post I discussed how the opposite of “better” is “easy”. It’s easy to stay in our comfort zone and not put ourselves out there, but is that developing us as a leader and ultimately as a man?
Not being able to provide financially
This is a common fear in men that can be used for good. A healthy fear of not being able to provide financially can cause us to be better workers and excel at our chosen vocation, however it can also cause us to stay in an unhealthy situation that isn’t growing or developing us. We often stay where we are even though what we feel called to will make us happier. The reason we do this is because what we feel called to may not pay as well as what we’re making now.
When my wife and I first moved back to Ohio from Florida, I took a job that paid really well. It was the most money I’ve ever made and I couldn’t wait to get started. It turned out to be the most difficult, stressful and frustrating job I’ve ever had. I would work 12-14 hour days and come home stressed and angry at the world. This went on for 6 months and it began to create a division between my wife and I. Once I realized this I knew it was time to move towards my calling and what makes me the happiest, even if it doesn’t pay nearly as well. All the money in the world can’t by the feeling you get when you’re doing what you’re truly supposed to be doing.
As men we are genetically engineered to be in control. We control our emotions, our finances, our time . . . basically we control our world. The thought of not being in control can strike terror in the toughest of men. We may not even be able to identify the fear when it comes on but it’s definitely there.
I speak from experience because there have been many times throughout my life when I have lost my mind because control has slipped through my fingertips. Have you ever got in a fight with your wife/girlfriend and they don’t believe a word you say? No matter what you do you can’t convince them to not be mad at you. In that moment you don’t have control over their feelings and it can easily drive you nuts. So in order to maintain control we withhold information from them to not make them mad or we somehow alter their perception of the situation to maintain control.
This is just one of the many examples of how we can lose control as men, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that holding onto control in relationships, sends a message to the other person that you hold yourself above them and don’t think enough of them to let them handle things the way they need to. Allowing others to have equal control in a relationship shows love and a deep trust for the other person.
This is a part of life. We’re all wrong. Some more than others, but we’ve all been in situations where we’ve made the wrong decision or said the wrong thing. Instead of fearing this, we need to learn from it and grow. To be wrong is to be human. Showing our humanity to the people we love helps to build trust and that’s always better than being right.
Traditionally we think of a fear of commitment as a man being a “player” or not ready to settle down, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Although a lot of men fear the commitment of relationship with one woman, they also fear the commitment of relationship with their parents, their children and their friends. Relationships requires a deeper level of commitment. When we invest in other people we are committed to maintaining that relationship by spending quality time with them, having meaningful conversation and being there for them no matter what.
Surprisingly, we often shy away from certain relationships because of the commitment they require. The truth is that at times it can be draining both physically and emotionally, but nothing compares to the long term benefits of healthy, loving relationships in your life.
Asking for help
To a lot of men, asking for help is a sign of weakness. If you ask me, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to swallow your pride and ask for help. Leaning on others shows them that you respect their opinions and what they have to offer. When we take matters into our hands all the time, we send a clear message that we don’t trust the people around us.
At the heart of almost everything we do as men is the fear of failure. What if we fall? What if we don’t measure up? How will my wife look at me if I don’t get that promotion? These are all common concerns for many of us, but at the heart of this fear is a lack of trust in the people we’re closest to. When I struggle with the fear of failure, the deep down feeling I usually have is a fear that my wife would love me less or that the people I love would look at me differently. The truth is that the people who love you, love you for you . . . not what you do or how successful you are. It takes trust in those relationships to know that even if you fail, they’re going to be right there by your side.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
If you’re interested in learning more about my ministry and how you can begin living a life of integrity, please contact me here or comment below. I love connecting with men who have a desire to live a life of integrity.