How to be a man: wrestling with blame, responsibility and courage

How to be a man: wrestling with blame, responsibility and courage

This article might also read: "how to be an adult...".

A major problem befalling us in our development as adults is this: the inner child is reluctant to let go of the tight grip on the being that you are. Whilst the 'inner child' will always be a part of you it may not possess you, or else you will be a pseudo-adult acting in childish ways. Many of us seem not to understand this, or perhaps some of us are in denial, and we allow the inner child to play us out in the most wreckless and irresponsible of ways.

All dastardly criminals are manifesting an out of control hurt, and wounded inner child. That's right - criminals (and I mean the confused and/or nasty variety, not the ones who are acting out of necessity) are simply children in adults bodies. There is no responsible adult to take care of this child, or to discipline the little beast, and so he or she comes out, takes over and throws extreme tantrums.

You might look at a gangster, and think - 'golly, that really is a tough guy'. Think again. The person you see is barely a man. He is irresponsible, blaming everything else other than himself, and he has no capacity to control his emotions and make wise choices. He is mistaking the fear he sees in the eyes of others (probably because he is packing a piece) for respect. We don't respect you - we think you are a foolish boy. We are simply intimidated because you have a weapon and an attitude mixed with fear and confusion such that you are unpredictable and dangerous. You ought to be restrained so that we may all go about our business in a civilized society and relax. This gangster - he is wreckless and out of control and will leave a train wreck of human suffering behind him. I ask you: how on earth is this noble? Any counter argument is ridiculous.

So this brings us to the question: what is a real man? Well let me tell you, most conscientiously and determinedly (and I am, as always, prepared to be wrong): A real man is an adult being who takes responsibility for everything he does, everything he says and everything he feels. He supports his peers and protects those who are more vulnerable than he is. He lives by a code of ethics and will never give himself permission to exploit his power for evil. He does not blame any one else, he does not blame people, places, things, times or events for anything he does. Rather, he takes responsibility. No one can make him do anything. He will not take his emotions out on anyone else or anything else - and if he absent-mindedly does so, he will apologise, remedy the situation as best he can, and learn from this experience to be an even better and stronger man. If there is pain and suffering, unresolved childhood experiences which are holding him back from his quest, then he will deal with this baggage in any way that is possible to become the man he is destined to be.  He will not live in denial, blame society for why he is so screwed up, and continue on in his merry fucked up way. Put simply - he will deal with it.

So there you have it.

This of course will take a tremendous amount of courage, as what would otherwise hold us back from this commitment is fear.

The fear comes from the inner child who is in pain and has not been soothed by the inner adult man. So what we need to do is build a bridge between the two and reconnect them. If you are a man (or a woman) reading this, you too can connect the inner child with the inner adult. You can soothe him and tell him everything will be okay; that you will do your best to make the monsters go away, but that he needs to be responsible and stop being bad (and there are no excuses).

In this way we become the parent we always wished we had. If we had sub-optimal parents (for whatever reason) then we quit blaming them and start to take responsibility for parenting ourselves. Rein yourself in and stop blaming others for how you are and why you are so problematic. Of course you may seek support in this endeavour, this quest, but do so respectfully as an adult seeking consultancy and assistance; not as a child handing over responsibility and blaming the therapist or doctor (or whoever) for 'pissing you off'. For goodness sake: be a man.

If you feel pain now it is simply because you have been told something which registers a note of truth - or else it wouldn't bother you. So don't take the pain out on the person who tells you this thing - don't kill the messenger. Be a man and learn from the experience. Soothe your pain, feel it to heal it, reassure yourself that 'this too will pass' - and by God it will! Just like waves, pain comes and goes... so just wait for it to go, and hold on to yourself in the mean time. Have faith and don't 'act out' of the pain as this is what children do. Rather, feel it to heal it, hold on, and it will pass and in so doing you have just learned how to deal with pain without reacting. From now on when difficult, painful emotions come up you will be set in greater stead to do what is necessary without taking out your shit on other people, animals, or things.

I am of course, as always, prepared to be wrong and if you wish to argue your case then I am prepared to hear your argument. But if you are going to speak bullshit I will tell you. I will call a spade a spade and not a shovel, because I am a man too - and I don't put up with lies and bull shit.

Ben Bruce.

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5 Responses

  1. G'day Ben! Nice article. It made me think of the following.... What does it tell you when you see a person acting a certain age? For example, a 25 year old at times acting like a 10 year old, say when they are tired they walk and act like a tired 10 yo with their cute little ways. And other mannerisms come out at times. It seems to me like part of them is stuck at age 10, and that this could be causing them serious problems as an adult. Robert
  2. Ben
    I think that when people act in a childish way, this is because they have a child component making up their entire being. This is the case with all of us, I think, as we used to be a child at some point in the past. We can also call this 'regression' as we go back to a way of being that is easier. In other words, being an adult at a higher level of development takes energy, and sometimes we feel out on a limb and overwhelmed and we are unable to take full responsibility and don't have the energy to maintain it, so we go back to an 'easier' way of being and act in a childish way. This is because we are not being nourished enough in having our needs met, or we don't know how to quite meet our own energetic and psychological needs. An example of this is being very stressed out, and if we can't cope we can want to run away or rebel. A fight or flight mechanism as opposed to dealing with the situation effectively as an adult. This should not be confused with reserving the right to take time-out when we are overwhelmed and then returning to the situation to deal with it appropriately when we are ready. This is a responsible thing to do, and we are not 'reacting' we are responding which comes from being responsible. Tiredness, hunger, stress are all ways that we can feel unable to be fully responsible and maintain the adult orientation of being. It doesn't necessarily indicate serious problems, just that the person is unable ot maintain the adult orientation. One other factor is that there is a sticking point at a particular time in the past in one's development, and the regression indicates that attention and work is needed at this time in one's experience, that there may be unresolved issues that need to be resolved. We can resolved them by bringing the adult self back to that time in a self-nurturing adult way, like an inner - parenting process. We can also recruit help from another nurturing and supportive adult to help this process. This is how we resolve such issues. Having a fuller understanding and working through any past issues by talking about them, understanding the issues, mindfully feeling the trapped feelings in a truer perspective, letting some things go, making changes if you can and seeing how it all links up in the fullness of your own psychology, as well as understanding what triggers the regression and how you can better respond in future, all amounts to what resolving things actually translates as. You will find that when this process occurs sufficiently the regression to a childhood state (rebellious or escapist, compliant and obsequious) will start to happen less and less. All of this is information being fed back to us that we can act on if we choose to, like using a map of the internal self. Ben Bruce.
  3. siva
    I have learned so much reading the article. Why did I not do so before. Just did not have the time? Too busy. Thanks Ben.
  4. Gemma
    I agree with your views. I have had previous experience with people who do not take responsibility, and even now I can see right through the excuses and crap these people come out with. I call a spade a spade too, and even though it gets me into trouble at times, I always call out those who try to pass the buck and then cover up with excuses etc. I started learning to take responsibility for myself four years ago while I was in the middle of a breakdown. I'm now 29 years old, and I'm glad I had my breakdown because if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be who I am and where I am now. I still struggle with the blame game sometimes four years on, but I know now I'm not a coward at heart, so I keep at it. What strikes me as being ironic is people expecting me to take responsibility for things that were not from me or things I had no control over. There is this scapegoat mentality in our society, which I've had to deal with in my own situation. It takes real strength not to take responsibility sometimes as well.
  5. That hits the target dead cetrne! Great answer!

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