Image of a Man

About seven years ago I found myself truly inspired. My wife and I found a cure for  relationship issues we were having at the time. Since then we have shifted our perception on what “being in a relationship” means. By attending workshops, opening up to different teachings and reading books, I created a new image in my head of how I could or should operate as a man. 

This new imagery of a man (a third stage man as David Deida calls it or an integrated male as Robert Glover, the author of No More Mr Nice Guy, describes it) has always been a great source of inspiration to me and my coaching work. These images function as very welcome pointers to transcend the macho alpha-male and the sensitive nice-guy. In the past seven years, I slowly aligned myself with this new masculine image. I adapted it to my life and since then I have been trying to live up to the standards of a third stage man or an integrated male. 

The ability to be vulnerable, to be a good leader, be decisive, be at ease with my emotions, be the financial caretaker of my family,these are just a few of the traits I have been cultivating ever since. Of course through trial and error.  

Then suddenly a few weeks ago I found myself in this uncomfortable space, where I was not able to deliver what I thought I should deliver according to this image. My income went down, I lost my sense of direction in my business and I got overwhelmed by emotions of unworthiness. My addictions were lurking, my sense of self-esteem decreased and my overall feeling of failure was on the rise. I never really considered misery, addictions and feelings of failure a part of the “being a third stage man” package. It was then that I realised what my truth was at the moment: I failed my self-set standards. An inconvenient and pure experience in which I was simply invited to let go of a deep-rooted idea about myself. 

So how to get out of this? In my case it was painfully simple. I had to reach out and ask for help. Sharing my thoughts and feelings with people I trust made the difference. Speaking out loud and saying “I cannot do it alone” (a painful sentence for an Einselganger like me). So I let go of my pride and inserted vulnerability as a proven alternative. Despite the fact that my mind was flooding me with cries like "loser" and “weakling” during this process, it was my body and my emotional state that slowly came to rest. My mind followed.  

I feel so blessed with the people I have around me: my wife, my son, my family, my friends. They heard my cry for support, they listened, they held space, they allowed me to feel even deeper and they did not judge me. It was like coming home, sinking deeper into the reality of who I truly am.

So here I am sitting behind my laptop, realising the huge impact of the standard I have set for myself. I also realise that it is exactly this image that has contributed to the way I experience my reality. It is my belief system that functions as a lens for my experience. I created my own so-called failure only to realise that there is no such thing as failure. It is my reality and my way of dealing with my reality that really matters. It is my thoughts and expectations about “how I think my reality should be” that make me suffer. The message of letting go of who you think you should be and accepting who you really are has occured to me several times in my life. I always understood it with my mind, but this recent humbling experience made me feel it in my whole body. 

It is confusing and painful to override a belief. In my case, the belief that I as a man should always be the financial caretaker of the family. Hereby I set the intention to let go of this belief in order to make room for new insights and inspiration. I truly wonder what life has in store for me tomorrow...