Regardless of how you currently feel about yourself and your confidence as a man, all of us have an inner warrior with genuine self-esteem, inner strength, a sense of purpose, a mission in life, and the self-confidence necessary to go after what we really want. The question is how to get in touch with your inner warrior? The answer is to go on a heroic journey of initiation, self-discovery and growth towards your authentic self.
We can't undertake this journey alone, so I recently spoke to Boysen Hodgson from The ManKind Project to find out more about what that organization offers men seeking more confidence, clarity and direction in their lives. Here are some of the lessons from this interview:
To connect with the warrior within, we need to go on a heroic quest of adventure. It's normal to resist the call to adventure initially due to our fear of being seen for who we really are, but the challenge is necessary to discover the resources within us that we aren't currently aware of.
We decide during childhood who we need to be in order to be accepted, and then get stuck in that childhood decision as an adult long after it has been useful to us. Connections with other men are essential to break us out of this restricted childish view of who we are so we can take our place as a man in our society.
Relationships with women are not the appropriate place to get all our emotional needs met; we also need meaningful relationships with men. Often we feel like a fraud and a phoney, and seek affirmation from women instead of being really open with other men. Our fear and shame keeps us stuck, often in a powerless or passive-aggressive “nice guy” mode. The way out is to connect with other men and expose the areas of our life that we feel ashamed of. Men's groups are an ideal place to do this. Once we start exposing our shame in a supportive environment we learn to take more risks in life generally, allowing us greater freedom and potential for fulfillment.
All us have a shadow side which we hide, suppress and deny lurking in our subconscious. Freeing ourselves from the restrictive effects and the unpleasant emotions deep in our shadow involves delving deep into our psyche and shining a light onto the parts of ourselves that we normally hide from others. Once we take the journey, we discover that we have far more potential for both positive and negative than we ever thought possible. Part of this is letting go of control and submitting to a process of initiation where we learn to deal with our fears and to trust other men.
Our shadow is hidden from our conscious mind, so we need other men to act as mirrors to us in order to see the impact of our shadow on our lives and learn what to do to address it. Other men reflect our behaviors and choices to us and we need them to call us on it. Our shadow has its own ideas about what our mission and purpose are, so exposing it also helps us get clarity on our true mission in life.
Confidence is the ability to be relaxed and at ease with yourself in the world. Shame is the antithesis of confidence. We can overcome shame by noticing when it hits us and choosing to take care of ourselves, rather than medicating the pain away with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or other means of distraction. When we start acting as-if we are a man who deserves to be looked after, we start feeling more deserving. Sharing our shadow and our goals around it with other men gives us support to deal with what is happening in our lives with honesty instead of denial.
Doing this work with men leads to more honest, emotionally supportive relationships with women. Without this, our relationships with women reflect the unresolved issues in our relationship with our mother. You don't want to process your unresolved mother issues in your primary relationships with women, but this is what inevitably happens if we don't consciously do the work elsewhere.
Luke Skywalker in Star Wars is a stereotypical character who takes the hero's journey necessary to grow from a boy into his full potential as a man. The New Warrior Training Adventure offers a modern initiation for men to wake you out of the sleepwalk of only feeling partly alive. Participating in regular men's groups continues practicing the work to consolidate the growth in your life. Accountability to other men helps us get through the times when we don't feel like doing the work, so we can ultimately reap the full rewards in our lives.
The way to overcome the fear that stops us crossing the threshold towards adventure that leads us to what we really want in life, is to focus on the amazing future that we will experience as a result of taking this risk rather than to focus on the fear that keep us stuck. If you don't know what you really want in the future, given any two options always take the one that scares you more. It generally leads to the greater reward.
Listen to a preview of the interview here:
The full interview is included in The Confident Man Program.
The resources mentioned in this interview are: