On our podcast ‘Tales That Tethr’, tethr Founder & CEO Matt Zerker interviews entrepreneurs, experts, thought leaders, and regular people about what is means to be a man, the challenges that modern men face, and how to overcome challenges and live life in a more connected and authentic way.
The journey of becoming a man, whatever that may imply, is not easy, and that is partly because we often lose sight of what being a man could mean. Enclosed in this blog you will find 10 different gems that reveal separate but intrinsically linked ideas uncovering what it means to be human, which will give you the building blocks to interpret yourself what your manhood will be. Tread carefully, because if you can heed these videos with the intent to understand and apply, your journey may change quite drastically.
This first video is a simple one that goes a long way. We all know that everyone has insecurities, but we don’t always realize how much time we waste trying to get rid of them. The natural part of ourselves that wants them gone does not realize that most times these are not things we can change about ourselves, yet our competitive and yearning nature needs us to belong or overcome the people we observe around us. If you were the last person on Earth, how much would your height matter to you? Or the shape of your nose? Probably not much, because there is nothing to compare those traits to. Understanding that insecurity is a natural part of our societal identities will help you feel okay with their nagging nature. And not just the object of insecurity, but insecurity itself. We are judgemental creatures, so whenever you feel less than or that you could or should be, tune into the deeper, intuitive aspect of life that knows none of your idealistic expectations will bring you your truest happiness, that everything will come and go regardless because life is just a process constantly in motion. Remember that men are not judged by how insecure they are, but by how much they identify with those insecurities.
Loneliness is an epidemic mostly because we don’t see the value in it. Nobody will fully “get” us, but that’s what makes friendship beautiful. Sharing our joy with others would be meaningless if we knew everything about them, that mystery is why we like to explore and keep friends around because there is always something new for us to experience around the corner. Don’t see loneliness as a vice, rather utilize it to connect to yourself and what you really want out of life, so that you can learn to love yourself for who you truly are and what character you’d like to grow into. Only by starting with yourself can you begin to truly love others and create much more interesting bonds, because at that point conversations will reveal more authentic parts of ourselves. Your own independent mindset, a new perspective you have facilitated will not make you lonely but more connected on a deeper level, not isolated but more independent.
Mike Tyson isn’t known by everyone for his philosophy, but his intriguing insights might change that. Since everything is in a natural process and will come and go, nothing is permanent, and so anything your ego attaches you to isn’t either. This gives you an ability to look at yourself and all your inadequacies honestly, because all those pathetic parts of yourself are not really you, as they will go if you allow them to by recognizing them first. Your ego is there as a tool to connect you to a higher cause, a bigger potential we all strive towards, so make sure you are aware of what you want to set that higher potential to be. Because when the ego attaches itself to a higher ideal, it will rationalize anything in your way to get itself there. It’s there to protect you, but it will try and kill off parts of others and parts of yourself in its own effort to be great, and those parts could either be your inadequacies which you want to go, or your moral character which you need to stay. So be careful with it remembering it is only a tool, and remind yourself to detach ever so often from it so you can give yourself time to be at peace and acceptance of the world around you, not being in a constant battle to overcome it.
Continuing on the podcast theme (which I believe hold a special kind of spontaneous wisdom), we have two of the biggest names in comedy, Bill Burr and Kevin Hart. There’s nothing more guys will be guys than two comedians podcasting with each other, but this one really puts a new meaning on getting your shit together. Because sometimes, having ambition and career, is not enough, although it is necessary for its own right. The day-by-day demons we face will be present regardless of our success, and they can pile up if you don’t learn to confront them. Because confrontation does not just work in one area, like negotiating with your boss to give you a raise. It is also an internal thing, like what relationships you are running from, or what methods you might use to escape the boring and miserable nature of certain thought patterns. As Bill talks about, the digital age has made it much easier to escape these things which make our situation feel better in the present but we suffer in the long run. Don't run away from that shit, men grow resentful, angry, and miserable without every knowing that they're just tired from being on the run for too long. By understanding the small threats you face day by day, you can build habits and patterns of behavior that will grow your competence and courage to allow you to conquer the larger ones.
Taking place in a barbershop, this reporter from the Guardian did something most media outlets could learn from; leaving subjectivity as subjective and allowing people to openly express different opinions. The objectivity of our human condition is that we all have some resemblance of competitive nature as motivational systems for our survival, and as men, that masculine nature can become expanded for better or for worse. We can choose to make it constructive, by setting that ideal to be better not just for ourselves but for those around us, making our ego practical so it doesn’t work against us. This video gives many different viewpoints on what masculinity could be for each individual, so pick a definition that is most relevant to your own growth and align with it. Perhaps, you can pick what’s important to you to protect, by understanding your own limitations and the limitations others suffer from. For others, it may be cultivating internal courage and independence, by confronting the anxieties surrounding our daily lives. Whatever it is, your masculinity is your own, and society does not have the right to take it away from you or force it upon you.
Dr. Mate is a famous physician that has helped many comprehend the mind-body connection between illnesses, and how physical symptoms very often will begin from our heads. Anxiety is a very common example of this, and it is an ever-increasing problem among young men today which has become worse through our indulgence in a culture that looks to escape the symptoms rather than rooting the source. Mate tells us that this source is almost always found in our childhood, the earliest formations of our present identity. Developing itself as a coping mechanism, anxiety is your alarm that you are not completely protected. Once you can delve into your childhood and see what memories or events make you feel most unsafe, you will get a better understanding of the child within you that needs soothing, what threats you need to convince your mind that it can handle. In our highly digitized world, one main source of trauma comes from feelings of isolation, so make an effort to genuinely connect to others by being authentic yourself, and not just what people might want you to be.
Unorthodox compared to most of his videos, Charlie’s take on how we emotionally react to people and how we can improve it is very similar to Mate’s. Resentment and anger have no use in being bottled up, especially when it is someone you meet repeatedly. Whether you know it or not, your parents and society have raised you with certain values and beliefs that you subconsciously aspire to. These beliefs build patterns over time that shape our personality, especially in how we react to people. Often when someone threatens the image our parents or friends have unknowingly set for us, we react in a hostile way to protect our self-image, almost possessed by a spirit that will not let the past go. Accepting this will allow you to be more aware when the opportunity for reaction presents itself, whenever someone you are close to says that thing that makes you tick. Make an effort to do the opposite of your fight-flight response, although this will require you to expose a true part of yourself that will make you feel vulnerable because you have a chance at getting what you really want, and you wouldn’t want to lose that. Change is scary, but to make it happen you need your intuition to take over. Reframe your anger to work for you in defense of a greater character you choose for yourself, not in protection of what your instinct desires.
Oh, look, another school of life video! They must know their stuff, and I believe they really show that here in regards to how much we don’t know about ourselves. In fact, we lie to ourselves on a constant basis without being fully conscious of it. Subconsciously sabotaging ourselves and our relationships, the effects of deceit are far-reaching indeed. And in order to fix these relationships, we need to be honest with others, which requires being honest with ourselves first. If you haven’t noticed, this blog has a repeated theme of self-awareness, which has a major component concerning the patterns we fall into when we react to other people or certain events. The best way to understand your patterns is to observe your reactions and to make sure you are observing honestly, not just to soothe the ego. Allow it to be pathetic and weak, embrace all its vulnerability and inadequacy and what terrible things your fear has possibly led you to which might not end up being so horrible after all since we are all sinners. What you will find is that for the most part, we lie to keep fear at bay. It will let us lie about anything that could obscure our feelings of safety, lying to hold back the fear of confronting reality. Your fear is constantly driving you from the back seat, and most men never conquer it because they never realize what it truly is, hiding behind their own deceitful egos.
Whether you like him or not, Jordan Peterson knows his stuff. It's when he delves into areas outside of his expertise, like politics, that his knowledge becomes iffy, and that has made him a huge target for hate. While I wouldn't personally agree with everything he says, he has a huge body of knowledge that is missed out on with a culture that tends to pigeonhole people for one or two beliefs, and then subtract the nuance of the entire belief system. Opposing a controversial belief does not make it go away, rather understanding the whole system and the context associated with certain opinions gives us a much clearer path forward for growth, whether that be someone else's or our own. And as a man, you have to understand your limitations first before you can maximize your growth, or else you'll never learn whats holding you back. Sometimes these limitations are ingrained beliefs we hold, lies we might tell ourselves which come from a notorious part of our psyche that we don’t allow ourselves to fully confront. When we ignore our shadow and our own lies, they gain more freedom to work against us. But in the end, that dark, angry destructive devil on your shoulder is only there to work for you, if you can listen to it properly. As its manager, you must still respect this monstrous element you possess, otherwise, it may quit its job, becoming repressed within your subconscious where it festers without your control. Give it its own time of day when you are genuinely being threatened or disrespected by any of the multitudes of societal and personal negotiations you hold, so that it may integrate into your confidence constructively and allow you to straightforward go for what you deserve. But remember to keep it tamed with your conscience; the HR personnel that watches where things go wrong and subtlety signals to you that you need to fix them. Once you can get in tune with this, you can burn off the lies you tell yourself to protect that ego that is fragile for everyone. Your ego will feel weaker and vulnerable, but by allowing it to work as a tool in conjunction with your other sub-personalities, you strengthen all of them as they align to a higher responsibility outside of their domain. Make them align to the man you want to become.
This last one is a bit more spiritual, something we could all use in our highly digitized and technical lives. As you go about your journey towards becoming a man, you will feel resistance, external and internal. But this is natural, as life is meaningless without struggle, and every action needs an opposite reaction. So accept it and face it, because every time you feel down on your luck there might always be something better around the corner that you’re not seeing. We barely know anything about the world, and the wisest people themselves know that true knowledge only exists when you become aware that you can’t really fully know anything. Thus, it is futile to rely on the ego to try and rationalize everything to be safe and certain for you. Make space for all the parts of yourself, let your intuition guide you here and there, and listen to who it wants you to become. It knows a lot more than our conscious minds do, after all, so sometimes the best thing we can do in the moment is to trust it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, but more importantly, I hope you can find a way to use it. The wisdom might take some time to reveal itself into action and application, just remember these ideas and trust the processes that will make everything happen. And perhaps you will serve a definition of masculinity that others will admire and strive to align themselves to, an ideal for everyone’s betterment.
Rehan Noon is an upcoming freshman at the University of Delaware who has been fascinated by the psychological side of well-being, a passion facilitated by a cancer diagnosis at 13. Now focused on cultivating new ideas surrounding the mental side of health and illness, he is exploring the intersections of brain science, psychology, and philosophy to create an integrated lens for everyone to better understand themselves and further their own psychological welfare.