The Nature of Masculinity

The Nature of Masculinity

The Nature of Masculinity

Darren Diprose

Apr 14, 2020

5 min read

Who am I? 3 simple words but yet so fundamental to our existence as a man.This is the most fundamental question men will ever attempt to answer in pursuit of a deeper understanding of their true identity. Our ability to live as a congruent, authentic man is wholly dependent on us understanding this question.

The road we travel in pursuit of the answer to this question is fraught with difficulty. We will encounter an entire history pushing against us which will at times feel overwhelming. Anyone who has read Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Travelled will understand the challenges. After all It takes immense courage and strength to question who we have always believed ourselves to be in pursuit of who we are! The good news here though is that every man possesses the resources they need to undertake this journey as i have done.

Jordan Peterson in his book, 12 rules for life, refers to the nature of Yin and Yang as representing order and chaos. The energy we invest into maintaining order (the status quo), or an understanding of ourselves that suits our view of the world, becomes disrupted (chaos) when we start to question that view in search of our true identity.

Understanding OUR true nature and living a life in accordance with OUR values is the key to freedom, congruence and attracting a more positive energy into our lives. One of the universal truths is that like attracts like.

While attempting to answer the question of identity I make no apologies for not expanding the nature v nurture debate but suffice to say that identity is clearly a product of our DNA (nature) as well as learned behaviour (nurture). The exact proportion of our character driven by nature or nurture is unknown. My belief is that our character is genetically coded to a lesser degree and that we are ultimately products of our environment (family, school, work, social groups, society) and that our values and beliefs are subsequently shaped by that environment.

From the moment we are born into this world (extensive research suggests while in the womb even) we start to interpret experiences represented in the form of content which then gets registered within our unconscious mind. All values and beliefs are formulated unconsciously. My philosophy is that we are born free but become enslaved by shame as a consequence of our experiences and the cultural expectations placed on us as boys and then as we grow into men — we simply don’t stand a chance!

As young men we are bombarded with imagery from the movies, the media and advertising that tell us men are strong, handsome, cool, fearless, perfect individuals. Within our families we are told that boys don’t cry, don’t show weakness or vulnerability and to man up (ok its our “mates” that tell us this last one). These messages are wholly incompatible with the human experience. As we develop further and experience rejection, abandonment, abuse (sexual, mental, emotional), violence, bullying, neglect, not being heard these are interpreted as there must be something wrong with me as an individual, that i am somehow not good enough. The deepening and embedding of toxic shame becomes so painful. Shame begets shame and sets up a vicious cycle that will cause suffering on a profound level and will continue to do so until confronted with the truth. The irony here is that truth (who we really are) becomes our salvation but we need to shine a light on the lies we have always believed to be true.

As we mature we develop strategies to cope with the deep sense of shame we feel. Some men turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Others may revert to compulsive approval seeking, excessive exercise, geographicals and some even try to physically harm themselves such is the extent of the pain and suffering. We feel a deep schism within our fractured personality that tells us that we are not good enough……so we work ever harder to present to the world that we are. If we can just convince the world that we are ok then maybe we will feel like we are. This is an illusory dream and will only result in us living a life that is only partly experienced. As men we can either live, die or not live!

Human beings have a deep need to find order and meaning. Our experiences become the blueprint for how we set out to live our lives, essentially a life script. A life script in as much of a sense as a film director follows to make a movie.

My own internal life script included messages such as:

Be strong

Try harder / don’t try (i am a mass of contradictions)

Don’t even bother as you will fail anyway

Don’t succeed

Never give in

Get away from everyone

People hurt you

You will always be rejected

People will always abandon you

Don’t stand up for yourself

These messages were how i set about living my life with disastrous consequences. I ended up at rock bottom becoming jobless, homeless, penniless and hopeless at the age of 25. Ironically, this was the turning point for my life.

I undertook the journey to true selfhood and did some deep work on myself that set me free and enabled me to build a life that is incredible. I was able to face my shame squarely, the most courageous act i (and any man) will ever do and developed a deep understanding of who i truly am. I gradually started to grow into the man i am today, i became educated, i graduated with 2 first class degrees from one of the top universities in the UK and how i am now an integral member of a senior leadership team of a Global FTSE 100 company!

Every day i wake up i am eternally grateful for what i have — the universe has been good to me — remember like attracts like. I am now a married man with 3 children (well, one is 27 years old now). I own my own home and am very good at what i do professionally. Over the years i have won numerous industry awards. I am a good husband, a great father and a good man. I live my life according to my values and beliefs. Most importantly i KNOW that i am ok!

Being a man has very little to do with trying to be a man, and a lot to do with

being present and trustworthy, grounded and transparent, and showing up as a warrior of integrity

Shame is probably our most hidden and misunderstood emotion. It’s also the one most likely to motivate men to stay away from the help they need — and need to admit they need — which can range from psychotherapy to addiction programs.

The point is not to get rid of shame as that just isn’t possible but to develop enough intimacy with it so that it cannot crush or run us, regardless of its intensity.

Male suicide is now at epidemic proportions with men aged 35–44 over 3 times more likely to take their own lives. I find this heartbreaking and also totally unnecessary. The more as men we try to change the cultural paradigm and societal norms the more men will realise they can ask for help. 3 words that when acted upon changed my life!

If you identify with my story and would like to find out more please feel free to get in touch.

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