Artists like the Four Seasons, Grand Funk Railroad, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Jersey Boys have sung similar songs all embodying the same message. “Walk like a Man.”
As I listen again to these familiar and unfamiliar lyrics, I can’t help noticing how each song refers to a father, mentor, or man giving guidance. The storyteller/songwriter initially rejects their advice, but it ultimately proved valuable.
It’s been said that “Art imitates life,” or better yet, “Art reflects life.” Either way, every day I see and hear the truth taught in these lyrics. Moreover, that truth is all too many men don’t know how to “walk” like a man. No one has mentored or modeled healthy masculinity for them. So, they’ve learned to “act” like men. Often trying on a variety of masks to hide their ignorance and insecurities.
Maybe you can identify. These masks prevent your peers and the public from seeing your true self. They enable you to hide your hurts, fears, insecurities, and ignorance. With no manual, script, director, or healthy man to guide you, you’ve perfected the act, even though you know it’s not who you really are or who you want to be.
Thus, you perfect the art of being a “pretender.” You pretend to be whom or what you think others expect you to be. Pretending to be tough, strong, rugged, formidable, and capable, knowing deep down that you’re not. Hiding the truth that you’re flying by the seat of your pants, hoping you’ll catch some new insights that will show you how to become the man you know you could be. Sound familiar?
Here are some masks that may be intimately familiar to you:
Player Prideful Clown Callus Aloof
Unapproachable Shallow Violent Angry Sex-machine
Practical Joker Playboy Comedian Intimidating Loner
Fearless Bad-ass Strong Arrogant Powerful
Judgmental Self-righteous Insensitive Pretender Tough Guy
Perhaps you could add a few more of your own.
Learning to recognize these masks is the first critical step toward removing them. So, here’s my challenge to you. Grab a pen and some paper. Identify and write down all the masks you have felt compelled to wear during your lifetime. In what ways has each mask helped you pretended to be someone or something you knew you weren’t? Identify when and where you still feel the need to wear these masks today.
Lastly, write down how difficult you think it will be for you to remove all these masks and be emotionally honest in your relationships. I know that this is a tough thing to ask, but vital if you want to stop “acting” like a man.
Be mindful that “acting” like a man perpetuates a culture that compels you to compare and compete with other men. This is a tainted culture that discourages men from having deep, meaningful relationships with other men or mentors. Sad to see, isn’t it?
In part 2 of this blog post, I’ll show you how to eliminate the need for masks. I’ll show you how to develop new and enduring skills that will enable you to become more confident, approachable, and intimate in all your relationships.
If today’s blog was encouraging to you, take sure you sign up to receive blogs every Tuesday and Thursday. TransformingFamilies.org was created to enable you to discover and develop authentic, healthy intimacy in all your relationships.
FYI: I also provide one-on-one coaching, if you would like to improve your relationships, or you want someone to talk to, e-mail me at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, and we’ll schedule a time to connect. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed man.
You offer some accurate and sadly powerful observations. We truly need to recruit a large cadre of healthy males of all backgrounds and ages to help mentor younger males to grow into resilient nurturing and responsible men, fathers and citizens.