written by: John Glass
I have found that the hardest thing to forgive myself for is being a man in today’s society. Let me tell you why.
Many of us men grew up with our mothers being our primary caretaker. We also, were taught from grade school through college by female teachers. For this reason, we lacked guidance from men in our lives.
For instance, in one of my college classes on family violence the professor talked endlessly about how men abuse and/or rape. They would bring up all these statistics about the rates of violence and rape. One day after class I jokingly said to a peer, “Seems like this professor thinks that 50% of men abuse and 50% of men rape. Which one are we?”
My experience with this was that the messages I was constantly shown and told was that men were highly sexual and aggressive, so it was up to me to be different. The mindset that was created within my head was that I needed to be nice and passive in order to not be the highly sexual and aggressive man.
In my family men were seen as hurtful, abandoners because, those were the actions of my father. Who only cared about themselves and no one else. Although this was not a direct message from my mother, it was an indirect message. Many men may be able to relate to this message. This message told me that I needed to not be like my father.
The main point of these messages are that because I was born as a man this was my destiny. As well as, the only way to change that destiny was to be the complete opposite.
These messages are still being broadcasted to men today. Others may feel that men are the cause of all problems we face in society. This message has created a guilty by association bind for men. We are guilty of the behaviors of other men because we are also men.
I carried these messages with me for years. I developed many fears around being seen as a sexual man or an aggressive man. For that reason, I began to hate those parts of myself. I became disconnected with them.
The fears associated with the messages I carried about being a man hindered me from many things in life for example, showing interest in women. As a teenager, the beliefs I had about being a man created thoughts in my head that if I showed interest in a woman it would be seen as sexual. Which was “bad.”
I also found it difficult to be assertive about my opinions and beliefs because in my mind that would be too aggressive. I did not want to be seen as aggressive so I refused to assert my opinions or beliefs.
I allowed myself to be governed in life by my fears associated with being a man. At the core of my thoughts, being a man was pure evil.
Tirelessly I worked to be the polar opposite of what I was told and shown a man is.
It was not until the last few years that I have begun to show forgiveness and self-compassion towards myself for being a man. It has been a long process and is continuing to this day.
One of the biggest steps I have taken is to alter my black and white thinking. This is the thought that men are either completely aggressive or completely passive. Neither of these ideas are correct. This is the result of the messages told and shown to me.
Once I realized this, I have been able to reconnect with my assertive, not aggressive, and sexual side. I have had to counter my past beliefs through new messages such as, standing up for my convictions does not make me aggressive, and showing interest in a woman does not make me a rapist.
I have held these beliefs for so long that forgiveness is a process. It takes time and healing to change my patterns of thought about who I am as a man and what kind of man I will become.
What I must do is every day challenge my past belief system to recreate a strong, more positive belief. Thus, assisting me in become what I call a “balanced man.” What I mean by this is that I am working to become a man that has equal positive traits from both the aggressive man and the passive man.
It helps when I tell myself regularly, “I am not destined to be the man that others are telling me I will be. I am destined to be the man that I choose to be.”
originally posted on The Good Men Project