Dear Men of the World,
I have a confession to make:
While I consider myself to be the ultimate motorbike-riding, gym-owning, shaved head, big-bicepped (made that word up) Alpha Male Warrior, I have, on several occasions (okay, many) been known to experience. . . . fear (please keep this between us as I wouldn't want the girls to find out and possibly think I'm weak. . . or worse, human).
And while I'm getting things off my chest, I've got a few other confessions:
I've been wr. . wr. . wr. . . wrong (there, I said it). . . on numerous occasions. Hard to believe, I know.
I've cried. . . and not because a bug flew in my eye or I was cutting onions (I know you're losing respect for me by the minute).
I've expressed my emotions to another human being (crazy I know).
I've had a conversation with another male about relationships and feelings (surprisingly, neither of us spontaneously combusted).
Anyway, I thought I'd drop you all a line because it has come to my attention that there exists wide-spread confusion about (1) the role of the male of the species and (2) acceptable and expected behaviour of the male. . . and who better to clarify such issues for all mankind than the ex-fat kid who cries through chick flicks.
Unlike the DVD player or the microwave oven, it seems that we blokes come with neither an instruction manual, or any form of warranty. Sure, there have been a few ‘how-to’ guides for men. . . but take a look around, they're clearly not having the desired impact; maybe only the girls are reading them!
And not unlike other ‘household appliances', we have so many ‘features’ and capabilities that we never even test drive. . . or know how to use (the sympathy, the apology and the humility capabilities, just to name a few). Most of us are kind of like those mobile (cell) phones with two thousand features. . . but all we do is make and receive calls. . . ‘cause we have absolutely no clues how to use the thing properly!
My extensive(!) research tells me that some of the younger males of the species have been receiving mixed messages and lessons from the elder males of the tribe who are often confused, uneducated, emotionally dysfunctional, sick puppies themselves. And with role models and mentors such as these, what hope is there for our future Alpha Males to be well-balanced, emotionally healthy, loving, caring men? Assets to society?
When Junior ‘learns’ from his father that it's okay to scream at mum(mom) he receives a (bad) lesson in human behaviour, relationships and being a husband. And when he gets taught that same lesson over and over for years it makes sense that eventually he embraces dear old dad's mentality and communication style. . . and so the dysfunction, the destruction and the pain continue.
While I'm still a work in progress, it has been my pleasure to consult with thousands of blokes over the years working through all kinds of issues ranging from lowering body-fat, to learning to deal with criticism, to learning to become a more effective communicator, to learning to cope with and overcome all types of fears.
There's not a bloke on the planet who doesn't experience fear. . . but for some strange reason we men seem compelled to regularly demonstrate how fearless we are. I've even heard men brag how they are. . . . afraid of nothing.
"Mate, nothing scares me. "
Always remember this wise old proverb:
"Show me someone who has no fear. . and I'll show you an idiot. " (C. Harper, 2007)
Well. . . all ‘wise old proverbs’. . . . have to be new proverbs at some stage.
No, we don't want to be controlled by fear but there are times when fear is ‘normal’ (even sensible) and it's okay to acknowledge that fear. . . and no, that acknowledgement does not put our manliness into question. Clearly some men confuse stupidity with bravery or toughness.
Just watch Jackass Two.
And now we have young men all across the world demonstrating how effectively they can mimic their Jackass heroes by putting themselves through massive physical pain and mutilating themselves in front of their buddies. . . to be just like their famous role models.
So clever. And fearless. We are a society which teaches and condones stupidity.
"Hey don't ask me about my anger issues or my fears or insecurities. . . but watch me put this massive fishing hook through my cheek and watch me shoot this rocket out of my ass. "
If only I wasn't telling the truth, it would be amusing. Sadly, it is true and it is tragic.
Okay, so we're not going to ‘fix’ this issue with one small article (post) but I thought we could start with some simple guidelines of acceptable and unacceptable ‘bloke behaviour’.
Here we go:
1. Crying - good, healthy even. If you're crying all day, every day; not good.
2. Punching people who disagree with you - not good (as a rule).
3. Being scared occasionally - normal, healthy.
4. Abusing people in traffic (although not only a male behaviour) - not good. . and not surprisingly, achieves nothing but stress.
5. Threatening people - stupid, immature, unnecessary. . . actually a sign of weakness.
6. Admitting you don't know something - very good. While a rarity in testosterone land, it actually shows a sign of confidence, maturity and good self esteem. Give it a go. . . it's liberating.
7. A compulsion to show people how physically strong, athletic, co-ordinated and tough you are - pathetic and embarrassing.
8. Admitting you are wrong - good. Don't rationalise it, justify it or explain it. . . just go the humility route and say “I am wrong, sorry. " End of story. Simple, but rare. When we admit that we are wrong but then endeavour to justify it. . . we ruin the moment.
9. Holding a conversation about something other than sport - good. If you can actually incorporate some dialogue about your feelings and emotions, even better. If the conversation lasts for more than three minutes and you are completely honest; bonus points.
10. Reading the paper while your partner pours out her heart to you - not good. Stupid, in fact. Potentially dangerous.
11. Man hugging. Good. Healthy to a point. Personally not a fan of excessive whisker on whisker contact. . . . but overall it shows a certain level of emotional maturity. Many blokes will run into a burning building to save their buddy but never tell the same buddy how they feel about him or demonstrate any affection. “Don't be stupid Craig, he just knows. "
12. Farting - good. Healthy. Hilarious. Doesn't matter how old you are; farts are always funny. (Didn't expect that did you girls. . . and by the way, why are you reading this; it's for us blokes!)
Craig Harper (B. Ex. Sci. ) is an Australian motivational speaker, qualified exercise scientist, author, columnist, radio presenter, and owner of one of the largest personal training centres in the world.
He can be heard weekly on Australian Radio SEN 1116 and GOLD FM and appears on Australian television on Network Ten's 9AM.
Motivational Speaker - Craig Harper