Self Esteem

Forget About What Your Family Thinks Of You

For many men I know who lack confidence, the seeds of low self-esteem were planted early on during childhood in our family of origin. In an ideal world, our parents create an environment in which we can flourish as a young boy, thrive as an adolescent, and fulfill our potential as a man: confident and self-assured. We feel loved unconditionally, get on brilliantly with our siblings, and learn to deal constructively with conflict that inevitably occurs within any family.

In the real world though, things work a little differently. Unless parents make a conscious effort to deal with their personal issues through some other form of personal growth or therapy, they tend to unconsciously pass on their own insecurities to their children. They can't help it; as children we are particularly sensitive to what goes on in our environment, and our parents are our natural role models whose behavior we tend to copy. Our parents have a god-like status to us as a young boy, and we can't help but naively assume that the way they operate in the world is a good way for us to be too. As children we lack the real world experience and insight to notice that the way our parents operate doesn't necessarily work real well for them either, and we don't know any better.… Continue reading…

By Graham Stoney, ago

How to Have Better Relationships With Women

Here's a story with some relationship advice for you. I took my Dad out to dinner last week as his 79th Birthday gift. He is actively downsizing in preparation for moving into a retirement village with my mother, so I appreciate that the last thing he wants is a physical gift from me. He'd much rather have some quality time together.

Unfortunately we have slightly different definitions of "quality time". As my father droned on and on over dinner telling me story after boring story, I felt myself shutting down and becoming increasingly frustrated and angry with him. He lives in his own little world, oblivious of the effect his words have on other people. I used to wonder why it was that as an adult, I found myself pushed away by his stories all the time and began feeling resentful every time he launched into one. Now I know, and the simple answer has the power to totally transform relationships:

My Dad's stories have no emotional content.

Over the past few years, I've been studying the broad spectrum of human communication. Here are some of the things I've learned from the various different fields I've studied:

  • To be a powerful public speaker, you must tell stories that engage your audience's emotions.

Continue reading…

By Graham Stoney, ago

How to Recover from a Passive or Ineffective Father

Having a passive, ineffective or absent father has an enormous effect on a man's development and eventual self-confidence. The quality of your relationship with your father, and his ability to pass on to you his positive masculine wisdom and energy are the most important factors in you developing your full potential as a man.

A passive father will damage your sense of masculinity

However, if your father was relatively passive, non-assertive, ineffective, absent physically or even just shy and withheld, you may have some work to do in order to recover what you missed out on. Here are some suggestions on how to fill the gap your father left:

Join a Men's Group

The most important indicator of confidence in a man is your secure ability to relate meaningfully to other men. Your relationship with other men is modeled on your relationship with your father, and on your friendships with other boys while growing up. You can't improve on this by yourself, nor can you do it with women: you need to find other men who you can relate to on a deeper level.

Find men you can trust who are prepared to drop the usual competitive male bravado and talk straight with you about their successes, failures, frustrations and joys in life.… Continue reading…

By Graham Stoney, ago

Confidence, Cats In The Cradle and My Relationship with My Father

Harry Chapin's famous song Cats In The Cradle hits me emotionally every time I hear it. Whether it's his original, Cat Steven's even more well-known version, or more recent covers like the one by Ugly Kid Joe, it never fails to strike an emotional chord with me. I've spent the last 3 weeks learning to play it on my guitar, and when I play it myself it's even stronger.

Knowing what I know now, I'd say that my father lacks confidence and that's why he is so reluctant to share his feelings, and hard for other people to connect to. He was my natural role model and for a long time I emulated this too. As a result, I lacked confidence and we both had very little emotional connection.

The song connects me with the pain I still feel in my relationship with my emotionally distant father. Ironically, my father and I have a lot of time for each other and get together on a regular basis; we have even more time together now that he's retired and I'm working for myself. But there's a distance between us that I find painful.

My Dad was always there for me physically as I kid, and I don't ever recall brushing him off because I just wanted to borrow the car keys once he'd taught me how to drive.… Continue reading…

By Graham Stoney, ago